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1.a public dance hall for dancing to recorded popular music
2.popular dance music (especially in the late 1970s); melodic with a regular bass beat; intended mainly for dancing at discotheques
1.dance to disco music
'Disco' La Passione • 20 Disco Greats / 20 Love Songs • 24 Hours in a Disco • Alfa Romeo Disco Volante • All Disco Dance Must End in Broken Bones • All Night Disco Party • Anti Disco Night • Anti disco • Anti-Disco Night • Anti-disco • Baby Loves Disco • Backfire at the Disco • Beautiful (Disco Montego song) • Bedroom Disco • Big Disco • Black Devil Disco Club • Bring Me the Disco King • Burn This Disco Out • Cafe Disco • Can't Stop the Disco • Carol Williams (disco musician) • Cindy and the Disco Ball • Club Disco • Cock Rock Disco • Cosmic Disco • Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco • DJ Disco Wiz • Dance (Disco Heat) • Death Disco • Death Goes to Disco • Den svenske disco • DiscO-Zone • Disco (TV series) • Disco (album) • Disco (disambiguation) • Disco (film) • Disco (software) • Disco 2 • Disco 2000 • Disco 2000 (song) • Disco 3 • Disco 4 • Disco Activisto – The First Two Singles • Disco Bay • Disco Beaver from Outer Space • Disco Bill • Disco Biscuits • Disco Blanco Recordings • Disco Bloodbath • Disco Club (Remix) • Disco Corporation • Disco D • Disco Dancer • Disco Deewane • Disco Defenders • Disco Demolition • Disco Demolition Night • Disco Demoliton Rivalry (White Sox-Tigers) • Disco Destroyer • Disco Dream • Disco Ensemble • Disco Era • Disco Extravaganza (album) • Disco Fever • Disco Fever (pinball) • Disco Gardens • Disco Girl • Disco Godfather • Disco Heaven • Disco Inferno • Disco Inferno (50 Cent song) • Disco Inferno (Quantum Leap) • Disco Inferno (band) • Disco Inferno (disambiguation) • Disco Inferno (musical) • Disco Inferno (song) • Disco Infiltrator • Disco Kandi • Disco King • Disco King Mario • Disco Lady • Disco Lento • Disco Lies • Disco Lights • Disco Machine • Disco Marching Kraft • Disco Mix Club • Disco Montego • Disco Nights (Rock-Freak) • Disco Nights (album) • Disco No. 1 • Disco Nouveau • Disco Party • Disco Pigs • Disco Riot • Disco Riots • Disco Romance • Disco Saturday Night • Disco Six Six Six • Disco Step-by-Step • Disco Sucks • Disco Sucks Night • Disco Tango • Disco Tanz • Disco Volante • Disco Volante (disambiguation) • Disco Volante (ship) • Disco ball • Disco crumping • Disco dance • Disco dancing • Disco house • Disco in Dream/The Hitman Roadshow • Disco mix • Disco orchestration • Disco-Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes • Dooby Duck's Disco Bus • El Disco de Oro de Ángel C. Loyola • El Disco de Rebelde Way • En La Disco • Euro disco • Even Better Than the Disco Thing • Fierce Angel Presents Fierce Disco II • Foxy (disco group) • Future disco • Gay Disco • Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording • Guerilla Disco • HEALTH//DISCO • I Created Disco • I Love the Nightlife (Disco 'Round) • In the Disco • Irwin the Disco Duck • It's a Disco Night (Rock Don't Stop) • Italo Disco • K-Mart Disco • K2 Disco Monkey • Keen on Disco • Last Chance Disco • Les Années Disco • Let's Go Disco • List of Euro disco artists • List of disco artists • List of disco artists (A-E) • List of disco artists (F-K) • List of disco artists (L-R) • List of disco artists (S-Z) • List of post-disco artists and songs • Live in Japan (Simian Mobile Disco album) • Los Dueños De La Disco • Love Liberty Disco • Magic (Disco Montego song) • Maxi Disco Macumba • Maxi Disco Rosa Salvaje • Mickey Mouse Disco • My Dear Disco • My Disco • No Disco • Nu italo disco • Nu-disco • Offlaga Disco Pax • One Room Disco • Ozone Disco Club fire • Panic! at the Disco • Panic! at the Disco discography • Paradise (My Disco album) • Post-disco • Pure Disco • Retard Disco • Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco • Roller disco • Sandcastle Disco • Sesame Disco • Sgt. Disco • Shifty Disco • Silent Disco • Silent disco • Simian Mobile Disco • Simian Mobile Disco EP • Skull Disco • Soirée disco • Space disco • Stealth disco • The Best Disco in Town • The Best Disco... Ever! • The Dirty Disco • The Disco Ball • The Disco Before the Breakdown • The Disco Boys • The Ethel Merman Disco Album • The Last Days of Disco • The Mello Hippo Disco Show • The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post Disco Crash • Todd Smith (Dog Fashion Disco) • Uptight (Disco 2000) • Virgo Blaktro and the Movie Disco • When Disco Ruled the World • World's Largest Disco • Your Disco Needs You
|Stylistic origins||Funk • Various soul styles
• Psychedelic • Latin (especially salsa)
• Pop rock
Secondary: Afro-Cuban music (furthest Soca) • Classical • Gospel • Swing • Blues
|Cultural origins||Late 1960s–early 1970s; United States|
|Typical instruments||Keyboard • Drums • Drum machine • Synthesizer • Violin • Electric guitar • Bass guitar • Piano • String section • Horn section • Orchestral solo instruments (e.g., flute) • Percussion|
|Mainstream popularity||High in the mid-late 1970s|
|Derivative forms||Afro-funky • Hi-NRG • House • Post-disco • Hip-hop • New Wave • Garage • Nu-disco Rave culture|
|Italo disco • Eurodisco • Space disco • Disco polo • Nu-Disco|
|Disco-punk • Disco house • Manila Sound|
|US: NYC • Philadelphia • Atlanta • Miami • LA
Canada: Toronto • Montreal • Vancouver • Ottawa
|Discothèque • Nightclubs
Orchestration • Disco artists
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. Its initial audiences were club-goers from the African American, Latino, gay, and psychedelic communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Disco also was a reaction against both the domination of rock music and the stigmatization of dance music by the counterculture during this period. Women embraced disco as well, and the music eventually expanded to several other popular groups of the time.
In what is considered a forerunner to disco style clubs, New York City DJ David Mancuso opened The Loft, a members-only private dance club set in his own home, in February 1970. Allmusic claims some have argued that Isaac Hayes and Barry White were playing what would be called disco music as early as 1971. According to the music guide, there is disagreement as to what the first disco song was. Claims have been made for Manu Dibango's "Soul Makossa" (1972), Jerry Butler's "One Night Affair" (1972), the Hues Corporation's "Rock the Boat" (1973), George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby" (1974), and "Kung Fu Fighting" (1974) by Biddu and Carl Douglas. The first article about disco was written in September 1973 by Vince Aletti for Rolling Stone magazine. In 1974 New York City's WPIX-FM premiered the first disco radio show.
Musical influences include funk, Latin and soul music. The disco sound has soaring, often reverberated vocals over a steady "four-on-the-floor" beat, an eighth note (quaver) or 16th note (semi-quaver) hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and a prominent, syncopated electric bass line sometimes consisting of octaves. The Fender Jazz Bass is often associated with disco bass lines, because the instrument itself has a very prominent "voice" in the musical mix. In most disco tracks, strings, horns, electric pianos, and electric guitars create a lush background sound. Orchestral instruments such as the flute are often used for solo melodies, and lead guitar is less frequently in disco than in rock. Many disco songs employ the use of electronic instruments such as synthesizers.
Well-known late 1970s disco performers included Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Trammps, Van McCoy, Gloria Gaynor, The Village People, Chic, and The Jacksons—the latter which first dipped its toes into disco as The Jackson 5. Summer would become the first well-known and most popular disco artist—eventually having the title "The Queen of Disco" bestowed upon her by various critics—and would also play a part in pioneering the electronic sound that later became a prominent element of disco. While performers and singers garnered the lion's share of public attention, producers working behind the scenes played an equal, if not more important role in disco, since they often wrote the songs and created the innovative sounds and production techniques that were part of the "disco sound." Many non-disco artists recorded disco songs at the height of disco's popularity, and films such as Saturday Night Fever and Thank God It's Friday contributed to disco's rise in mainstream popularity. According to music writer Piero Scaruffi the disco phenomenon spread quickly because the "collective ecstasy" of disco was cathartic and regenerative and led to freedom of expression. Disco was the last mass popular music movement that was driven by the baby boom generation.
Disco music was a worldwide phenomenon, but its popularity declined in the United States in the late 1970s. On July 12, 1979, an anti-disco protest in Chicago called "Disco Demolition Night" had shown that an angry backlash against disco and its culture had emerged in the United States. In the subsequent months and years, many musical acts associated with disco struggled to get airplay on the radio. A few artists still managed to score disco-style hits in the early 1980s, but the term "disco" became unfashionable in the new decade and was eventually replaced by "dance music", "dance pop", and other identifiers. Although the production techniques have changed, many successful acts since the 1970s have retained the basic disco beat and mentality, and dance clubs have remained popular.
The term "discothèque" was coined in Europe to describe clubs where there was no live music played (a.k.a. disk-only events). In Occupied France, jazz and bebop music plus the jitterbug were banned by the Nazis as decadent American influences, so members of the Resistance met at hidden underground dance clubs called discotheques (fr. record collection) where they danced to American swing music, which a DJ played on a single turntable when a jukebox was not available. These "discotheques" were also patronized by anti-Vichy youth called zazous who much like the kids in the USA during the 1940s were wearing zoot suits. There were also underground discotheques in Nazi Germany patronized by anti-Nazi youth called the swing kids.. Jimmy Saville played records of big band music in dance halls in Leeds, England, during World War Two.
Before 1953 and even some years thereafter, most bars and nightclubs used a jukebox or mostly live bands. In Paris, at a club named "Whisky à Gogo", founded in 1947, Régine in 1953 laid down a dance-floor, suspended coloured lights and replaced the juke-box with two turntables that she operated herself so there would be no breaks between the music. The Whisky à Gogo set in place the standard elements of the modern post World War II discothèque-style nightclub. At the end of the 1950s several of the coffee bars in Soho introduced afternoon dancing and the most famous, at least on the continent, was Les Enfants Terribles at 93 Dean St.These original discothèques were nothing like the night clubs as they were unlicensed and catered to a very young public—mostly made up of French and Italians working illegally, mostly in catering, to learn English as well as au pair girls from most of western Europe.. In the early 1960s, Mark Birley opened a members-only discothèque nightclub, Annabel's, in Berkeley Square, London. In 1962, the Peppermint Lounge in New York City became popular and is the place where go-go dancing originated.,[dubious ] However, the first rock and roll generation preferred rough and tumble bars and taverns to nightclubs, and the nightclub did not attain mainstream popularity until the 1970s disco era.[dubious ]
The sexual revolution occurred in the United States during the 1960s but homosexuals were left out. Homosexual sex acts were illegal in several states and homosexual bars were frequently raided by police. When police raided one such bar the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village section of New York City in June 1969 patrons fought back leading to the Stonewall Riots. For homosexuals the riot led to a feeling that the time had come when they could be themselves. Due to the sexual revolution and feminism female sexual desire which previously was not discussed or understood became a topic for discussion. This was the atmosphere in which New York City, musicians and audiences from the female, homosexual, black, and Latino communities adopted several traits from the hippies and psychedelia. They included overwhelming sound, free-form dancing, "trippy" lighting, colorful costumes, and hallucinogens. Psychedelic soul groups like the Chambers Brothers and especially Sly and The Family Stone influenced proto-disco acts such as Isaac Hayes, Willie Hutch and the Philadelphia Sound. In addition, the positivity, lack of irony, and earnestness of the hippies informed proto-disco music like M.F.S.B.'s "Mothers"Love Is the Message". To the mainstream public M.F.S.B. stood for "Mother Father Sister Brother", to the tough black areas where they came from it was understood to stand "Mother Fuckin Son of a Bitch".
Philly and New York soul were evolutions of the Motown sound. The Philly Sound is typified by lavish percussion and lush strings, which became a prominent part of mid-1970s disco songs. Early songs with disco elements include "Bla, Bla Diddly" (Giorgio Moroder, 1966), "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (The Supremes, 1966), "Only the Strong Survive" (Jerry Butler, 1968), "Message to Love" (Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys, 1970), "Soul Makossa" (Manu Dibango, 1972), Eddie Kendricks' Keep on Truckin' (1973) and "The Love I Lost" by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (1973).
The early disco sound was largely an urban American phenomenon with producers and labels such as SalSoul Records (Ken, Joe and Stanley Cayre), West End Records (Mel Cheren), Casablanca (Neil Bogart), and Prelude (Marvin Schlachter) to name a few.
The disco sound was also shaped by Tom Moulton who wanted to extend the enjoyment of the music—thus creating the extended mix or "remix". This has influenced many other latter genres such as techno, and pop. DJs and remixers would often remix (that is, re-edit) existing songs using reel-to-reel tape machines. Their remixed versions would add in percussion breaks, new sections, and new sounds. Other influential DJs and remixers who helped to establish what became known as the "disco sound" included David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Shep Pettibone, Larry Levan, Walter Gibbons, and Chicago-based "Godfather of House" Frankie Knuckles.
Disco hit the television airwaves with Soul Train in 1971 hosted by Don Cornelius, then Marty Angelo's Disco Step-by-Step Television Show in 1975, Steve Marcus' Disco Magic/Disco 77, Eddie Rivera's Soap Factory and Merv Griffin's Dance Fever, hosted by Deney Terrio, who is credited with teaching actor John Travolta to dance for his upcoming role in the hit movie Saturday Night Fever.
From 1974 through 1977, disco music continued to increase in popularity as many disco songs topped the charts. The Hues Corporation's 1974 "Rock the Boat", a U.S. #1 single and million-seller, was one of the early disco songs to hit #1. The same year saw the release of "Kung Fu Fighting", produced by Biddu and sung by Carl Douglas, which reached #1 in both the U.K. and U.S., and became the best-selling single of the year and one of the best-selling singles of all time with eleven million records sold worldwide, helping to popularize disco music to a great extent. Other chart-topping disco hits that year included "Walking in Rhythm" by The Blackbyrds, "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae, and "Love's Theme" by Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra.
In the northwestern sections of the United Kingdom the Northern Soul explosion which started in late 1960s and peaked in 1974 made the region receptive to Disco which the regions Disk Jockeys were bringing back from New York. George McCrae's Rock Your Baby became the United Kingdoms first number one disco single.
Also in 1974, Gloria Gaynor released the first side-long disco mix vinyl album, which included a remake of The Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye" and two other songs, "Honey Bee" and "Reach Out (I'll Be There)". MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother) released "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)", a 1974 hit recording featuring vocals by The Three Degrees, which became the first disco song to reach number one, after "Love's Theme", on the Billboard Hot 100; it was written as the theme song for Soul Train.
Also during this early disco period was Miami's KC and the Sunshine Band. Formed by Harry Wayne Casey ("KC") and Richard Finch, KC and the Sunshine Band had a string of disco-definitive top-five hits between 1975 and 1977, including "Get Down Tonight", "That's the Way (I Like It)", "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty", "I'm Your Boogie Man" and "Keep It Comin' Love".
In 1975 Donna Summer recorded a song which she brought to her producer Giorgio Moroder entitled "Love to Love You Baby" which contained a series of simulated orgasms The song was never intended for release but when Moroder played it in the clubs it caused a sensation. Moroder released it and it went to number 1. It has been described as the arrival of the expression of raw female sexual desire in pop music. A 17 minute 12 inch single was released. The 12" single became and remains a standard in discos today.
The Bee Gees used Barry Gibb's falsetto to garner hits such as "You Should Be Dancing", "Stayin' Alive", "Night Fever" and "More Than A Woman". Andy Gibb, a younger brother to the Bee Gees, followed with similarly-styled solo hits such as "I Just Want to Be Your Everything", "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" and "Shadow Dancing". In 1975, hits such as Van McCoy's "The Hustle" and Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" and "Could It Be Magic" brought disco further into the mainstream. Other notable early disco hits include The Jackson 5’s "Dancing Machine" (1974), Barry White’s "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" (1974), LaBelle’s "Lady Marmalade" (1975) and Silver Convention’s "Fly Robin Fly" (1975).
In December 1977 the film Saturday Night Fever was released. The film was marketed specifically to broaden disco's popularity beyond its primarily homosexual, black, and Latin audience. It was a huge success and its soundtrack became one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Chic's "Le Freak" (1978) became a classic and is heard almost everywhere disco is mentioned; other hits by Chic include the often-sampled "Good Times" (1979) and "Everybody Dance" (1978). Nile Rodgers was a "street hippie" in late 1960s New York. The group regarded themselves as the disco movement's rock band that made good on the hippie movements ideals of peace, love, and freedom. Every song they wrote was written with an eye toward giving it "deep hidden meaning" or D.H.M.
Martin Dow, an influential DJ at the time in Key West, FL was the resident DJ at The Monster, who pioneered the NYC sound across the state and was a recipient of the IRAA Gold Record for the Atlantic Records hit single "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" by Chic. He was influenced by Roy Thode, a NYC DJ who played in many NYC clubs at the time and was a close friend of Jim Burgess. Roy and Martin were notable for their ability to phase and mix three turntables simultaneously.
The Jacksons (previously The Jackson 5) did many disco songs from 1975 to 1980, including "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" (1978), "Blame it on the Boogie" (1978), and "Can You Feel It" (1980)—all sung by Michael Jackson, whose 1979 solo album, Off the Wall, included several disco hits, including the album's title song, "Rock with You", "Workin' Day and Night", and his second chart-topping solo hit in the disco genre, "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough".
Disco's popularity led many non-disco artists to record disco songs at the height of its popularity. Many of their songs were not "pure" disco, but were instead rock or pop songs with (sometimes inescapable) disco influence or overtones. Notable examples include Blondie's "Heart of Glass" (1978), Cher's "Hell on Wheels" and "Take Me Home" (both 1979), Barry Manilow’s "Copacabana" (1978), David Bowie's "John I'm Only Dancing (Again)" (1975), Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" (1979), Electric Light Orchestra’s "Shine a Little Love", "Don't Bring Me Down", and "Last Train to London" (all 1979), George Benson's "Give Me the Night" (1980), Elton John and Kiki Dee's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (1976), and Diana Ross' "Upside Down" (1980).
Even hard-core mainstream rockers mixed elements of disco with their typical rock 'n roll style in songs. Progressive rock group Pink Floyd, when creating their rock opera The Wall, used disco-style components in their song, "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" (1979)—which became the group's only #1 hit single (in both the US and UK). The Eagles gave nods to disco with "One of These Nights" (1975) and "Disco Strangler" (1979), Paul McCartney & Wings did "Goodnight Tonight" (1979), Queen did "Another One Bites the Dust" (1980), The Rolling Stones did "Miss You" (1978), Chicago did "Street Player" (1979), The Beach Boys did "Here Comes the Night" (1979), The Kinks did "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" (1979), and the J. Geils Band did "Come Back" (1980). Even heavy metal music group Kiss jumped in with "I Was Made For Lovin' You" (1979).
The disco fad was also picked up even by "non-pop" artists. Easy listening artist Barbra Streisand teamed up with Donna Summer to do "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" in 1979, then with Barry Gibb to do "Guilty" the following year. Of country music artists, Connie Smith covered Andy Gibb's "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" in 1977, Bill Anderson did "Double S" in 1978, and Ronnie Milsap covered Tommy Tucker' s "High Heel Sneakers" in 1979.
Pre-existing non-disco songs and standards would frequently be "disco-ized" in the 1970s. The rich orchestral accompaniment that became identified with the disco era conjured up the memories of the big band era—which brought out several artists that recorded and disco-ized some big band arrangements including Perry Como, who re-recorded his 1929 and 1939 hit, "Temptation", in 1975, as well as Ethel Merman, who released an album of disco songs entitled The Ethel Merman Disco Album in 1979. Myron Floren, second-in-command on The Lawrence Welk Show, released a recording of the Clarinet Polka entitled "Disco Accordion". Classical music was even adapted for disco, notably Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven" (1976, based on the first movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony) and "Flight 76" (1976, based on Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee"), and Louis Clark's Hooked On Classics series of albums and singles.
Notable disco hits based on movie and television themes included a medley from Star Wars, "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" (1977) by Meco, and "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone" (1979) by The Manhattan Transfer. Even the I Love Lucy theme wasn't spared from being disco-ized. Many original television theme songs of the era also showed a strong disco influence, such as "Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow" (theme from Baretta, performed by Sammy Davis, Jr. and later a hit single for Rhythm Heritage), Theme from "S.W.A.T." (from S.W.A.T, original and single versions by Rhythm Heritage), and Mike Post's theme from Magnum, P.I..
Several parodies of the disco style were created. Rick Dees, at the time a radio DJ in Memphis, Tennessee, recorded "Disco Duck" (1976) and "Dis-Gorilla" (1977); Frank Zappa parodied the lifestyles of disco dancers in "Dancin' Fool" on his 1979 Sheik Yerbouti album, and "Disco Boy" on his 1976 Zoot Allures album; and "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1981 eponymous debut album includes a disco song called "Gotta Boogie", an extended pun on the similarity of the disco subgenre name "boogie" to the American slang word "booger" and its British counterpart "bogey".
By the late 1970s, a strong anti-disco sentiment developed among rock fans and musicians, particularly in the United States. The slogans "disco sucks" and "death to disco" became common, appearing in places ranging from T-shirts to graffiti. Radio DJs organized mass burnings of Bee Gees albums and posters. Frank Zappa's satirical song "Dancin' Fool" and Steve Dahl's "Do Ya Think I'm Disco?" described patrons of exclusive discos as being overdressed and vapid. Rock artists such as Rod Stewart and David Bowie who added disco elements to their music were accused of being sell outs.
The punk subculture in the United States and United Kingdom was often hostile towards disco. Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys, in the song "Saturday Night Holocaust", likened disco to the cabaret culture of Weimar-era Germany for its apathy towards government policies and its escapism. Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo said that disco was "like a beautiful woman with a great body and no brains", and a product of political apathy of that era. New Jersey rock critic Jim Testa wrote "Put a Bullet Through the Jukebox", a vitriolic screed attacking disco that was considered a punk call to arms. Mainstream rock pushed back as well: Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" (1978) contained a slight against disco in its lyrics, and The Who's "Sister Disco" (also 1978) is viewed by many as either mourning or encouraging the decline of disco.
Anti-disco sentiment was expressed in some television shows and films. A recurring theme on the show WKRP in Cincinnati was a hateful attitude towards disco music. In one scene of the comedy film Airplane!, a city skyline features a radio tower with a neon-lighted station callsign. A disc jockey voiceover says: "WZAZ in Chicago, where disco lives forever!" Then a wayward airplane slices the radio tower with its wing, the voiceover goes silent, and the lighted callsign goes black.
July 12, 1979 became known as "the day disco died" because of Disco Demolition Night, an anti-disco demonstration at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Rock station DJs Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, along with Michael Veeck, son of Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck, staged the promotional event for disgruntled rock fans between the games of a White Sox doubleheader. The event, which involved exploding disco records, ended with a riot, during which the raucous crowd tore out seats and pieces of turf, and caused other damage. The Chicago Police Department made numerous arrests, and the extensive damage to the field forced the White Sox to forfeit the second game to the Detroit Tigers, who had won the first game.
On July 21, 1979, six days after the riot, the top six records on the U.S. music charts were disco songs. By September 22, two months later, there were no disco songs in the US Top 10 chart. Some in the media, in celebratory tones, declared disco dead and rock revived.
The anti-disco backlash, combined with other societal and radio industry factors, changed the face of pop radio in the years following Disco Demolition Night. Top 40 radio stations did a turn-around and avoided playing music by black and Latin artists in general to avoid being labeled with the dreaded "disco" tag, regardless of what music style those artists performed. Starting in the 1980s, country music began a slow rise in the main pop charts. Emblematic of country music's rise to mainstream popularity was the commercially successful 1980 movie Urban Cowboy. Somewhat ironically, the star of the film was John Travolta, who only three years before had starred in Saturday Night Fever, a film that celebrated disco culture.
During this period of decline in disco's popularity, several record companies folded, were reorganized, or were sold. In 1979, MCA Records purchased ABC Records, absorbed some of its artists, and then shut the label down. RSO Records founder Robert Stigwood left the label in 1981 and TK Records closed in the same year. Salsoul Records folded in 1984. Casablanca Records had been releasing fewer records in the 1980s, and was shut down in 1986 by parent company PolyGram.
Many groups that were popular during the disco period subsequently struggled to maintain their success—even those that tried to adapt to evolving musical tastes. The Bee Gees, for instance, never had a major hit in the United States after the 1970s—even though later songs they wrote and had others perform were successful. Of the handful of groups not taken down by disco's fall from favor, The Jacksons—and Michael Jackson in particular—stand out: In spite of having helped define the disco sound early on, they continued to make popular and danceable, if more refined, songs for yet another generation of music fans in the 1980s and beyond.
Factors that have been cited as leading to the decline of disco in the United States include economic and political changes at the end of the 1970s as well as burnout from the hedonistic lifestyles led by participants. In the years since Disco Demolition Night, some social critics have described the backlash as implicitly macho and bigoted, and an attack on non-white and non-heterosexual cultures. In January 1979, rock critic Robert Christgau argued that homophobia, and most likely racism, were reasons behind the backlash, a conclusion seconded by John Rockwell. Craig Werner wrote: "The Anti-disco movement represented an unholy alliance of funkateers and feminists, progressives and puritans, rockers and reactionaries. Nonetheless, the attacks on disco gave respectable voice to the ugliest kinds of unacknowledged racism, sexism and homophobia." Legs McNeil, founder of the fanzine Punk, was quoted in an interview as saying, "the hippies always wanted to be black. We were going, 'fuck the blues, fuck the black experience'." He also said that disco was the result of an unholy union between homosexuals and blacks.
Steve Dahl, who had spearheaded Disco Demolition Night, denied any racist or homophobic undertones to the promotion, saying, "It's really easy to look at it historically, from this perspective, and attach all those things to it. But we weren't thinking like that." It has been noted that British punk rock critics of disco were very supportive of the pro-black/anti-racist reggae genre. Robert Christgau and Jim Testa have said that there were legitimate artistic reasons for being critical of disco.
Others blamed pushback from the rock industry: Harold Childs, senior vice president at A&M Records, told the Los Angeles Times that "radio is really desperate for rock product" and "they're all looking for some white rock-n-roll". Gloria Gaynor argued that the music industry supported the destruction of disco because rock music producers were losing money and rock musicians were losing the spotlight.
In the late 1980s and increasingly through the 1990s, a revival of the original disco style began to emerge.
By the mid to late 2000s, many disco-influenced songs were hits. Disco tributes continue to be popular draws. The World's Largest Disco, an annual celebration held over Thanksgiving weekend in Buffalo, New York, draws thousands of disco fans in 1970s-era attire. In addition to playing disco hits of the era, artists from the 1970s perform live.
Euro disco was not as funky, more pop oriented, and less soul influenced than American styled disco. European acts Silver Convention, Love and Kisses, Munich Machine, and American acts Donna Summer, and the Village People were acts that defined the late 1970s Eurodisco sound. Producers Giorgio Moroder whom Allmusic described as "one of the principal architects of the disco sound" and Jean-Marc Cerrone were involved with Eurodisco. The highly influential German group Kraftwerk is regarded by some as the first Euro disco act.
By far the most successful Euro disco act was ABBA. This Swedish quartet—with such hits as "Waterloo" (1974), "Fernando" (1976), "Take a Chance on Me" (1978), and their signature smash "Dancing Queen" (1976)—ranks as the eighth best-selling act of all time. Other prominent European pop and disco groups were Luv' from the Netherlands and Boney M, a group of four West Indian singers and dancers masterminded by West German record producer Frank Farian. Boney M charted worldwide hits with such songs as "Daddy Cool", "Ma Baker" and "Rivers of Babylon". In France, Claude François who re-invented himself as the king of French disco, released "La plus belle chose du monde", a French version of the Bee Gees hit record, "Massachusetts", which became a big hit in Canada and Europe and "Alexandrie Alexandra" was posthumously released on the day of his burial and became a worldwide hit. Dalida released "J'attendrai", which became a big hit in Canada and Japan, and Cerrone's early hit songs, "Love in C Minor", "Give Me Love" and "Supernature" became major hits in the U.S. and Europe.
Diana Ross was one of the first Motown artists to embrace the disco sound with her hugely successful 1976 outing "Love Hangover" from her self-entitled album. Ross would continue to score disco hits for the rest of the disco era, including the 1980 dance classics "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out" (the latter immediately becoming a favorite in the gay community). Ironically enough, the group Ross led to superstardom during the 1960s, The Supremes, scored a handful of hits in the disco clubs without Ross, most notably 1976's "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking" and, their last charted single before disbanding, 1977's "You're My Driving Wheel".
Also noteworthy are Cheryl Lynn's "Got to Be Real" (1978), Evelyn "Champagne" King's "Shame" (1978), Cher's "Take Me Home" (1979), Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" (1979), Geraldine Hunt's "Can't Fake the Feeling" (1980), and Walter Murphy's various attempts to bring classical music to the mainstream, most notably his hit "A Fifth of Beethoven" (1976).
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The "disco sound" is an ultra-inclusive art form that draws on as many influences as it produces interpretations. Jazz, classical, calypso, rock, Latin, soul, funk, and new technologies—just to name a few of the obvious—were all mingled with aplomb. Vocals can be frivolous or serious love intrigues—all the way to extremely serious socially conscious commentary.
The music tended to layer soaring, often-reverberated vocals, which are often doubled by horns, over a background "pad" of electric pianos and wah-pedaled "chicken-scratch" guitars. Other backing keyboard instruments include the piano, organ (during early years), string synth, and electroacoustic keyboards such as the Fender Rhodes piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, and Hohner Clavinet. Synthesizers are also fairly common in disco, especially in the late 1970s.
The rhythm is laid down by prominent, syncopated basslines (with heavy use of octaves) played on the bass guitar and by drummers using a drum kit, African/Latin percussion, and electronic drums such as Simmons and Roland drum modules). The sound is enriched with solo lines and harmony parts played by a variety of orchestral instruments, such as harp, violin, viola, cello, trumpet, saxophone, trombone, clarinet, flugelhorn, French horn, tuba, English horn, oboe, flute (sometimes especially the alto flute and occasionally bass flute), piccolo, timpani and synth strings or a full-blown string orchestra.
Most disco songs have a steady four-on-the-floor beat, a quaver or semi-quaver hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and a heavy, syncopated bass line. This basic beat would appear to be related to the Dominican merengue rhythm. Other Latin rhythms such as the rhumba, the samba and the cha-cha-cha are also found in disco recordings, and Latin polyrhythms, such as a rhumba beat layered over a merengue, are commonplace. The quaver pattern is often supported by other instruments such as the rhythm guitar and may be implied rather than explicitly present.
It often involves syncopation, rarely occurring on the beat unless a synthesizer is used to replace the bass guitar. In general, the difference between a disco, or any dance song, and a rock or popular song is that in dance music the bass hits four to the floor, at least once a beat (which in 4/4 time is 4 beats per measure), whereas in rock the bass hits on one and three and lets the snare take the lead on two and four. Disco is further characterized by a 16th note division of the quarter notes established by the bass as shown in the second drum pattern below, after a typical rock drum pattern.
The orchestral sound usually known as "disco sound" relies heavily on strings and horns playing linear phrases, in unison with the soaring, often reverberated vocals or playing instrumental fills, while electric pianos and chicken-scratch guitars create the background "pad" sound defining the harmony progression. Typically, a rich "wall of sound" results. There are, however, more minimalistic flavors of disco with reduced, transparent instrumentation, pioneered by Chic.
In 1977, Giorgio Moroder again became responsible for a development in disco. Alongside Donna Summer and Pete Bellotte he wrote the song "I Feel Love" for Summer to perform. It became the first well-known disco hit to have a completely synthesised backing track. The song is still considered to have been well ahead of its time. Other disco producers, most famously Tom Moulton, grabbed ideas and techniques from dub music (which came with the increased Jamaican migration to New York City in the seventies) to provide alternatives to the four on the floor style that dominated. Larry Levan utilized style keys from dub and jazz and more as one of the most successful remixers of all time to create early versions of house music that sparked the genre.
The "disco sound" was much more costly to produce than many of the other popular music genres from the 1970s. Unlike the simpler, four-piece band sound of the funk, soul of the late 1960s, or the small jazz organ trios, disco music often included a large pop band, with several chordal instruments (guitar, keyboards, synthesizer), several drum or percussion instruments (drumkit, Latin percussion, electronic drums), a horn section, a string orchestra, and a variety of "classical" solo instruments (for example, flute, piccolo, and so on).
Disco songs were arranged and composed by experienced arrangers and orchestrators, and producers added their creative touches to the overall sound. Recording complex arrangements with such a large number of instruments and sections required a team that included a conductor, copyists, record producers, and mixing engineers. Mixing engineers had an important role in the disco production process, because disco songs used as many as 64 tracks of vocals and instruments. Mixing engineers compiled these tracks into a fluid composition of verses, bridges, and refrains, complete with orchestral builds and breaks. Mixing engineers helped to develop the "disco sound" by creating a distinctive-sounding disco mix.
Early records were the "standard" 3 minute version until Tom Moulton came up with a way to make songs longer, wanting to take a crowd to another level that was impossible with 45-RPM vinyl discs of the time (which could usually hold no more than 5 minutes of good-quality music). With the help of José Rodriguez, his remasterer, he pressed a single on a 10" disc instead of 7". They cut the next single on a 12" disc, the same format as a standard album. This method fast became the standard format for all DJs of the genre.
Because record sales were often dependent on floor play in clubs, DJs were also important to the development and popularization of disco music. Notable DJs include Rex Potts (Loft Lounge, Sarasota, Florida), Karen Cook, Jim Burgess, Walter Gibbons, John "Jellybean" Benitez, Richie Kaczar of Studio 54, Rick Gianatos, Francis Grasso of Sanctuary, Larry Levan, Ian Levine, Neil "Raz" Rasmussen & Mike Pace of L'amour Disco in Brooklyn, Preston Powell of Magique, Jennie Costa of Lemontrees, Tee Scott, Tony Smith of Xenon, John Luongo, Robert Ouimet of The Limelight, and David Mancuso.
By the late 1970s most major U.S. cities had thriving disco club scenes, but the largest scenes were in San Francisco, Miami, and most notably New York City. The scene was centered on discotheques, nightclubs, and private loft parties where DJs would play disco hits through powerful PA systems for the patrons who came to dance. The DJs played "...a smooth mix of long single records to keep people 'dancing all night long'". Some of the most prestigious clubs had elaborate lighting systems that throbbed to the beat of the music.
At the height of the disco era, McFaddin Ventures were operating many successful and profitable nightclubs. In an effort to maximize profit, McFaddin Ventures in Houston, Texas commissioned a study on the stimulation of males and females during the playing of music. They accordingly custom tuned their speakers to make their numerous clubs more exciting.
In October 1975 notable discos included "Studio One" in Los Angeles, "Leviticus" in New York and "The Library" in Atlanta. The library Disco chain had locations in New City, Syracuse N.Y., Pittsburgh Pa., a short lived version in Denver, Co. as well as Atlanta Ga.
In the early years dancers in discos danced in a "hang loose" style. Popular dances included "Bump", "Penguin", "Boogaloo", "Watergate" and the "Robot". By October 1975 The Hustle reigned. It was highly stylized, sophisticated and overtly sexual. Variations included the Brooklyn Hustle, New York Hustle and Latin Hustle.
During the disco era, many nightclubs would commonly host disco dance competitions or offer free instructional lessons. Some cities had disco dance instructors or dance schools, which taught people how to do popular disco dances such as "touch dancing, "the hustle, and the cha cha. The pioneer of disco dance instruction was Karen Lustgarten in San Francisco in 1973. Her book The Complete Guide to Disco Dancing (Warner Books, 1978) was the first to name, break down and codify popular disco dances as a dance form and distinguish between disco freestyle, partner and line dances. The book hit the New York Times Best Seller List for 13 weeks and was translated into Chinese, German and French.
Some notable professional dance troupes of the 1970s included Pan's People and Hot Gossip. For many dancers, the primary influence of the 1970s disco age is still predominantly the film Saturday Night Fever (1977). This developed into the music and dance style of such films as Fame (1980), Flashdance (1983),"The Last Days of Disco"(1998). It also helped spawn dance competition TV shows such as Dance Fever (1979).
Disco fashions were very trendy in the late 1970s. Discothèque-goers often wore expensive and extravagant fashions for nights out at their local disco, such as sheer, flowing Halston dresses for women and shiny polyester Qiana shirts for men with pointy collars, preferably open at the chest, often worn with double-knit polyester shirt jackets with matching trousers known as the leisure suit. Necklaces and medallions were a common fashion accessory.
In addition to the dance and fashion aspects of the disco club scene, there was also a thriving drug subculture, particularly for drugs that would enhance the experience of dancing to the loud music and the flashing lights, such as cocaine (nicknamed "blow"), amyl nitrite "poppers", and the "...other quintessential 1970s club drug Quaalude, which suspended motor coordination and gave the sensation that one’s arms and legs had turned to Jell-O." According to Peter Braunstein, the "massive quantities of drugs ingested in discotheques produced the next cultural phenomenon of the disco era: rampant promiscuity and public sex. While the dance floor was the central arena of seduction, actual sex usually took place in the nether regions of the disco: bathroom stalls, exit stairwells, and so on. In other cases the disco became a kind of 'main course' in a hedonist's menu for a night out."
Famous disco bars included the very important Paradise Garage and Crisco Disco as well as "...cocaine-filled celeb hangouts such as Manhattan's Studio 54," which was operated by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. Studio 54 was notorious for the hedonism that went on within; the balconies were known for sexual encounters, and drug use was rampant. Its dance floor was decorated with an image of the "Man in the Moon" that included an animated cocaine spoon.
The transition from the late-1970s disco styles to the early-1980s dance styles was marked primarily by the change from complex arrangements performed by large ensembles of studio session musicians (including a horn section and an orchestral string section), to a leaner sound, in which one or two singers would perform to the accompaniment of synthesizer keyboards and drum machines.
In addition, dance music during the 1981–83 period borrowed elements from blues and jazz, creating a style different from the disco of the 1970s. This emerging music was still known as disco for a short time, as the word had become associated with any kind of dance music played in discothèques. Examples of early 1980s dance sound performers include D. Train, Kashif, and Patrice Rushen. These changes were influenced by some of the notable R&B and jazz musicians of the 1970s, such as Stevie Wonder, Kashif and Herbie Hancock, who had pioneered "one-man-band"-type keyboard techniques. Some of these influences had already begun to emerge during the mid-1970s, at the height of disco’s popularity.
During the first years of the 1980s, the disco sound began to be phased out, and faster tempos and synthesized effects, accompanied by guitar and simplified backgrounds, moved dance music toward the funk and pop genres. This trend can be seen in singer Billy Ocean's recordings between 1979 and 1981. Whereas Ocean's 1979 song American Hearts was backed with an orchestral arrangement played by the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, his 1981 song "One of Those Nights (Feel Like Gettin' Down)" had a more bare, stripped-down sound, with no orchestration or symphonic arrangements. This drift from the original disco sound is called post-disco. In this music scene there are rooted sub-genres, such as italo-disco, techno, house, dance-pop, boogie, and early alternative dance. During the early 1980s, dance music dropped the complicated melodic structure and orchestration that typified the disco sound.
During the 1970s, many TV theme songs were produced (or older themes updated) with disco influenced music. Examples include S.W.A.T. (1975), Charlie's Angels (1976), NBC Saturday Night At The Movies (1976), The Love Boat (1977), The Donahue Show (1977), CHiPs (1977), The Professionals (1977), Dallas (1978), Kojak (1978), The Hollywood Squares (1979). The British Science Fiction program Space: 1999 (1975) also featured a soundtrack strongly influenced by disco. This was especially evident in the show's second season.
The rising popularity of disco came in tandem with developments in turntablism and the use of records to create a continuous mix of songs. The resulting DJ mix differed from previous forms of dance music, which were oriented towards live performances by musicians. This in turn affected the arrangement of dance music, with songs since the disco era typically containing beginnings and endings marked by a simple beat or riff that can be easily slipped into the mix.
As the Disco era came to a close in the late 1970s, rave culture began to see significant growth. Rave culture incorporated disco culture's same love of dance music, drug exploration, sexual promiscuity, and hedonism. Although disco culture had thrived in the mainstream, the rave culture would make an effort to stay underground to avoid the animosity that was still surrounding disco and dance music.
The disco sound had a strong influence on early hip hop. Most of the early rap/hip-hop songs were created by isolating existing disco bass-guitar lines and dubbing over them with MC rhymes. The Sugarhill Gang used Chic's "Good Times" as the foundation for their 1979 hit "Rapper's Delight", generally considered to be the song that first popularized rap music in the United States and around the world. In 1982, Afrika Bambataa released the single "Planet Rock", which incorporated electronica elements from Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" and "Numbers" as well as YMO's "Riot in Lagos". The Planet Rock sound also spawned a hip-hop electronic dance trend, electro music, which included songs such as Planet Patrol's "Play at Your Own Risk" (1982), C Bank's "One More Shot" (1982), Cerrone's "Club Underworld" (1984), Shannon's "Let the Music Play" (1983), Freeez's "I.O.U." (1983), Midnight Star's "Freak-a-Zoid" (1983), Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You" (1984).
The post-punk movement that originated in the late 1970s both supported punk rock's rule breaking while rejecting its back to raw rock music element. Post-punk's mantra of constantly moving forward lent itself to both openness to and experimentation with elements of disco and other styles. Public Image Limited is considered the first post-punk group. The group's second album Metal Box fully embraced the studio as instrument methodology of disco. The group's founder John Lydon told the press that disco was the only music he cared for at the time. No Wave was a sub genre of post-punk centered in New York City.
For shock value, James Chance who was a notable member of the No Wave scene penned an article in the East Village Eye urging his readers to move uptown and get "trancin' with some superadioactive disco voodoo funk". His band James White and the Blacks wrote a disco album Off White. Their performances resembled those of disco performers (horn section, dancers and so on). In 1981 ZE Records led the transition from No Wave into the more subtle mutant disco (post-disco/punk) genre. Mutant disco acts such as Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Was Not Was, ESG and Liquid Liquid influenced several British post-punk acts such as New Order, Orange Juice and A Certain Ratio.
In the early 2000s the dance-punk (new rave in the United Kingdom) emerged as a part of a broader post punk revival. It fused elements of punk related rock with different forms of dance music including disco. Klaxons, LCD Soundsystem, Death From Above 1979, The Rapture and Shitdisco were among acts associated with the genre.
Nu-disco is a 21st century dance music genre associated with the renewed interest in 1970s and early 1980s disco, mid-1980s Italo disco, and the synthesizer-heavy Eurodisco aesthetics. The moniker appeared in print as early as 2002, and by mid-2008 was used by record shops such as the online retailers Juno and Beatport. These vendors often associate it with re-edits of original-era disco music, as well as with music from European producers who make dance music inspired by original-era American disco, electro and other genres popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is also used to describe the music on several American labels that were previously associated with the genres electroclash and deep house.
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