For those who recall the 70s, you also most likely recall the days of disco. It came, it was great and then it disappeared. What happened to disco and all the musicians who became sensations from it?
According to historians, disco died on a specific day, July 12, 1979. This was due to an anti-disco demonstration held in Chicago. During a White Sox doubleheader, disco records were blown up and riots broke out due to rock station DJs push to kill the genre. Others feel disco just fizzled out due to a bad economy and the burnout that followed the hedonistic lifestyle that went hand-in-hand with disco. Whatever it was, after the riot, the top six records on the U.S. charts which were of the disco genre fell from the top ten. Radio stations followed suit, not wanting to be associated with a genre that society was beginning to protest against, they stopped playing any disco themed music. Country music then began to come to the forefront, thanks to John Travolta’s shift from Saturday Night Fever to Urban Cowboy.
On television, a new sitcom called WKRP in Cincinnati, also promoted a disgust toward disco. Before long, the genre completely slipped away.
If you weren’t around in the 70s, you might wonder what disco was and why it was such a big sensation.
As rock and roll became ‘whiter and whiter’, disco opened the door for African American performers as well as gays. In the 1960s, it was illegal for men to dance together, disco changed that. Then, in 1977, the film Saturday Night Fever was released. The main character, John Travolta, a white male, starred in the show. The release of the film broadened disco’s popularity beyond its primarily gay and black audience. The movie’s success also pushed disco worldwide.
Musicians that became sensations in the disco era included Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Chic and The Jacksons. Summer would be the first well-known and most popular artist giving her the title “Queen of Disco.”
With the popularity of the music came clubs dedicated to disco, which were called discotheques. Almost all major US cities had thriving disco clubs. Private loft parties were also held where DJ’s would play disco hits. With disco came the added technological innovation of adding light shows. Entertainment was based on multiple and simultaneous sounds, images and lights which catered hallucinogenic states. People were experimenting more with psychedelic drugs and of course speed to keep up their energy on the dance floor. Club goers never seemed to tire but could dance all night long.
Discos seemed more like big ring circuses. Playing on that theme, one of the more popular discotheques in New York was indeed called the Electric Circus. Inside, emphasis was on charade and masquerade. One could even purchase clothes, furbelows and feathers.
If you didn’t know how to disco dance, most cities had instructors. Dances included touch dancing, the hustle and the cha cha.
Disco indeed was a phenomena and one that has seen a few small resurgences. While it might be dead, many of us can still enjoy its music with fond memories.
Top Disco Songs and Their Musicians:
ABBA – Dancing Queen’¨Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night’¨Bee Gees – Night Fever’¨Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive’¨Blondie – Heart Of Glass’¨Alicia Bridges – I Love The Nightlife’¨Chic – Le Freak’¨Earth, Wind & Fire – September’¨Yvonne Elliman – If I Can’t Have You’¨Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive’¨Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’¨KC & The Sunshine Band – That’s The Way (I Like It)’¨Kool & The Gang – Celebration’¨Lipps Inc. – Funkytown’¨Diana Ross – Upside Down’¨Sister Sledge – We Are Family’¨Donna Summer – Hot Stuff’¨Donna Summer – Last Dance’¨Van McCoy – The Hustle’¨The Village People – Y.M.C.A.’¨The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men
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