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“I remember from the get-go, it wasn’t a normal crowd.”
July 12, 2009 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Thirty years ago today was the infamous "Disco Demolition Night" at Chicago's Comiskey Park. It didn't go exactly as planned: "In the warm air that night, baseball’s routine and soothing sounds mixed with the tribal cadence of off-color chanting, the drifting scent of marijuana and the sight of vinyl records descending through the summer dusk like Frisbees." It wasn't the first time a 70s baseball promotion went astray. Considered by some "the worst idea ever," "Ten Cent Beer Night" at Cleveland Municipal Stadium five years earlier ended when "a large number of intoxicated fans – some armed with knives, chains, and portions of stadium seats that they had torn apart – surged onto the field, and others hurled bottles from the stands." (Previously on MeFi)
posted by NotMyselfRightNow (96 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.
posted by elfgirl at 7:26 AM on July 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


The Disco Sucks! campaign in 1979 had racist and homophobic undertones – and, 30 years on, has proven to be a resolute failure
posted by Artw at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


Poor Bill Veeck, who owned the team and was one of the great innovators in baseball history and a decent and iconoclastic guy, was just a little too old and out of touch to understand what was going on. Racist, homophobic, and idiotic too. I think it broke the guy and it was a sad way for his life in baseball to end.
posted by cogneuro at 7:52 AM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the article Artw linked: The unspoken subtext was obvious: disco music was for homosexuals and black people. Not only that, but, as Knopper notes, in the disco era "to make it with a lady a guy had to learn how to dance. And wear a fancy suit!"

Any chance we could get this unspoken subtext in spoken form? Nothing in the rest of that article supports the "unspoken subtext" claim, and that paragraph sounds more facetious than serious. We had to dance and dress nice OMG! *handstapleforehead*

I'm not saying it's not a valid criticism, but that nothing in that particular article supports it or appears to take it seriously. From that it just sounds like people who were angry that their style of music wasn't popular anymore (akin to metal vs. grunge in the 90s).
posted by elfgirl at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]



The Disco Sucks! campaign in 1979 had racist and homophobic undertones

I thought I hated disco because of drum machines and polyester. But really, what working class movement doesn't have those undertones?
posted by 445supermag at 8:09 AM on July 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


On the subject of Bad Baseball Promotions, I recall Tim Tschida speaking at a long-ago St. Paul Hot Stove League banquet about a game he once umpired in Central America somewhere, where they decided to have a Battery Night promo (which seems weird, but maybe a local merchant had a surplus?). Everyone in attendance got, if I'm recalling correctly, a big 6-volt lantern battery, and all was well until Tschida made a highly unpopular call against a home team player. At which point the batteries came raining down out of the stands, and he had to flee, shielding his head with his chest protector.

At least this, and Disco Demolition and Ten Cent Beer were one-offs. But apparently some ballparks still feature Bat Night, which ... well, the best description I've seen is at Bleacher Report:

Bat Night was simple, violent, and loads of fun. Upon entering the stadium, kids were handed a real-life wooden baseball bat. Boom, done.

What ensued from there on out was quite often madness, with children swinging their bats like crazed monkeys despite the close proximity to unsuspecting human beings. Shins were bashed in, skulls were bruised, and the entire evening was essentially a testament to gang violence.

posted by Kat Allison at 8:21 AM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]



Interesting. I grew up with R&R. But when disco came along I had no trouble accepting it. But the rappers?
Get them the hell off my lawn.
posted by notreally at 8:29 AM on July 12, 2009


I spoke to Mike Veeck just this past Wednesday and he looks like hes in fine shape
posted by wheelieman at 8:34 AM on July 12, 2009


live tv coverage - this is before things got out of hand
posted by pyramid termite at 8:42 AM on July 12, 2009


The Disco Sucks! campaign in 1979 had racist and homophobic undertones – and, 30 years on, has proven to be a resolute failure

I more or less agree but disco still sucked.

The music itself I could take or leave (some good, most awful - like any genre) but the whole rather narrow culture was just so overwhelmingly preponderant for a while (in clubs, on radio, in movies, in fashion) that something had to give ... and it did. I remember hearing about the Comiskey event miles and miles away in Vancouver, BC, and nobody in my crowd (punks, prog-rockers, good old fashioned rockers) was really that surprised about it. It just seemed inevitable.

As for the racist and homophobic undertones, I don't doubt that they were there but certainly not in my crowd. We just wanted way more from culture than disco was giving us, and nothing else was really getting a chance. And so it had to be destroyed absolutely. But nothing ever dies in pop culture, does it? Just goes into remission for a while.
posted by philip-random at 8:51 AM on July 12, 2009


The unspoken subtext was obvious: disco music was for homosexuals and black people.

No. It just sucked.
posted by Bonzai at 8:55 AM on July 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


What sucks more than disco? Cute nostalgic stories about Disco Demolition Day.
To put it more bluntly: Chicago’s black community and its gay community—not to mention its DJ community—has a different memory of Disco Demolition Day. For many, Disco Demolition Day was an ugly effort to stomp out a misunderstood culture. But on its 30th anniversary, DDD has been tidied up, well, a bit too much.
...
Even as a schoolkid on the East Coast, I knew that disco was strongly associated with the lifestyles led in San Francisco and New York City. We’re talking about an era when the Village People might be special guests on The Love Boat. If you get the feeling that DDD was an uneasy assault on urban culture’s increasing mainstream relevance—I’d have to say you’re on to something. Disco had been so popular in part because it was interactive and social—not because it was class exclusive.
...
Disco Demolition Day has never been forgotten—especially not by the music’s fans. And there’s actually a nice bookend to DDD. Primarily black Chicago producers never forgot it as they laid the foundation for a whole new genre of music a few years later called house. Note to Steve Dahl: It’s a lot easier to blow up a record than to make one to which people will dance. It’s also worth noting that the stadium was trashed again a month later at a Foghat/Beach Boys concert—which suggests that punters’ beef wasn’t so much with disco as with popular music or just being treated like cattle at stadiums.
Sorry for the hefty blockquotes, but this article provides a counter-view of the whole event. Disco was dying, and this was just an excuse to join in the chant "Disco Sucks."

If you're looking for Steve Dahl's "Do You Think I'm Disco?" - here it is. The article's example of disco reborn can be heard here (Hercules and Love Affair - Blind)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


the whole rather narrow culture was just so overwhelmingly preponderant for a while

Maybe in Canada this was true. In the UK, disco was just another element in a mix that by 1979 included Punk/Teds/Two-tone/Reggae/Electronica/Funk/Northern Soul and boring old rock.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:05 AM on July 12, 2009


I'm not saying it's not a valid criticism, but that nothing in that particular article supports it or appears to take it seriously. From that it just sounds like people who were angry that their style of music wasn't popular anymore (akin to metal vs. grunge in the 90s).

Interesting comparison. One thing they've got in common is that both grunge and disco were pretty small scenes that were suddenly, more-or-less artificially pumped up into the Next! Big! Thing! Hell, I liked grunge and I had to turn off the radio when it broke or I was gonna put an icepick through my ear the next time they played Smells Like Teen Spirit. Media crazes are godawful irritating things.

(Of course, there were also metalheads who hated grunge because Cobain sounded like a whiny little fag. So I'm not sure you're entirely ruling out homophobia by comparing the two.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:11 AM on July 12, 2009


Chicago Reader: Postcards from the Day Disco Died
posted by hydrophonic at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2009


Mike Veeck talks about that night with Dan Patrick.
posted by NoMich at 9:56 AM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Disco Sucks! campaign in 1979 had racist and homophobic undertones

I don't know; I don't like heavy metal either, and what does that say about me? I mean other than I have taste, of course.
posted by belvidere at 10:11 AM on July 12, 2009


Deena Weinstein, among others, has written about metal and social class.
posted by box at 10:14 AM on July 12, 2009


The music itself I could take or leave (some good, most awful - like any genre) but the whole rather narrow culture was just so overwhelmingly preponderant for a while (in clubs, on radio, in movies, in fashion) that something had to give ... and it did.

And I think that's a point that being missed -- the US in the 1970s was a near monoculture. With Saturday Night Fever, it achieved fad status; the soundtrack of that movie sold 15 million copies. Everything was disco in 1978. The backlash had to come at some point.

Back in the late 80s I saw an interview with Boy George where he surmised that the difference between American and European music was that disco never died in Europe, so it continued to morph and change. And while I don't agree with this (since he either was ignorant of or didn't take into account house music), I do think he's on to something -- disco didn't die as much as it evolved. House was learning to crawl down the street from Comiskey Park. In the UK disco cross-pollinated with punk to become new wave, and new wave's children and cousins would eventually hook up with Chicago house and Detroit techno to lay the foundation for rave, Euro-trash, Hi-NRG... in other words, a disco record is the great-great-grandfather of every single dance record out there right now.

Of course, its progeny wouldn't really make an impact in the US culture, and aside from the new wave bubble and occasional dance band hits, it really never has had the ear of popular culture the way disco did in 1976-78. The election of Reagan brought in a wave of conservative culture that valued the authentic (e.g. loud strummed guitars) over the artificial (e.g. synths). STDs, including HIV/AIDS, ate at the dance club scene. MTV playing no black artists until Michael Jackson and Prince in 1983 blocked any black disco or post-disco videos from reaching white youth culture. Into the void went rock and eventually the hair metal of the late 80s. And yes, there was a stigma that disco meant homosexual, which helped shunt American youth toward rock (though with all the makeup and hairspray hair metal bands wore you wondered if their fans ever thought through what made hair metal more manly than disco). But in the meantime, house and techno were evolving in the underground.

So disco never really died; it just evolved. And a bunch of drunken yobs at a 1970s recession era baseball game didn't kill it as much as reinforce the backlash against the fad nature of disco at the time. 29 years later, the kids in Seattle were pogoing in the streets to "Don't Stop Believin'" on election night, a good old-fashioned Eighties American rock song. Only, it wasn't. It was a DJ's remix/cover version. The circle, in as sense, was complete.
posted by dw at 10:37 AM on July 12, 2009 [13 favorites]


Deena Weinstein, among others, has written about metal and social class.

True story: I grew up in a trailer park behind a McDonalds by a single mother. So again, what does my dislike of both disco and heavy metal say about me?

The intention of my first post was strictly humor, but I bristle at being pigeon-holed.
posted by belvidere at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2009


I remember that night. It was awesome. As for it being anti-african-american or gay, it was none of those things. I listened to Steve Dahl every day back then (remember the Insane Coho Lips?) It was about the fact that disco was taking over everything, and mainly about Dahl getting fired from a gig at WDAI because they were going all disco (it also fit right in with his new gig's rock programming.) Dahl had started in Detroit and got lured away from a good gig there by WDAI. WDAI after a few months decided to go all disco and dropped Dahl. So when WLUP (the Loop,) a Zeppelin-blaring competitor, hired Dahl for the morning drive slot, Dahl used it to go after his old employer, "Disco DAI" as he called it. Dahl went over the top, and basically invented the "shock jock," long before Howard Stern got behind a mic. Everyday, Dahl would "blow up" a disco record and the people ate it up.

It had nothing at all to do with race or homosexuality--gay rights and culture did not exist at all for the hordes that listened--this was the 70's in the midwest. The only stuff Dahl ever did that could be interpreted as anti-gay (and I listened to him from a few months after he got on the Loop until the early '90's (from WLUP to WLS)) was years later when he had a gay character which didn't go over well.

And disco did suck.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:53 AM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Relax, Mr. Belvidere Cruising. I was just pointing out that metal and class is a subject that has been addressed in the social-sciences literature, and giving a suggestion for further reading. Thought you might be interested--didn't mean to offend.
posted by box at 11:09 AM on July 12, 2009


The Disco Sucks! campaign in 1979 had racist and homophobic undertones

I don't know; I don't like heavy metal either, and what does that say about me? I mean other than I have taste, of course.


I mostly agree with you here (ie: MOST still disco sucks, MOST metal has always sucked) but I'd never say as much in mixed company.

Except, of course, I just did.
posted by philip-random at 11:24 AM on July 12, 2009


Artw: "The Disco Sucks! campaign in 1979 had racist and homophobic undertones – and, 30 years on, has proven to be a resolute failure"

Back in the summer of 1979, the Detroit rock radio DJ Steve Dahl was so aggrieved....

That would be "Chicago DJ." Sheesh. When blathering about imagined racist/homophobic undertones, at least get the facts straight.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:32 AM on July 12, 2009


I grew up in Chicago. I was young enough that Disco Demolition didn't enter into my radar when it happened, although I learned about it soon enough. The next year, at age 10, I started getting heavily into classic rock and soon after that started to listen to Steve Dahl. I knew, of course, that disco sucked, but I didn't really know much about it. Steve Dahl had plenty of homophobic humor, and my peers were absolutely interested in who and what was and wasn't gay--or more accurately, who could be accused as gay. I started a new school and my last name rhymes with "fairy," so I was the class faggot for a few months, until a less-popular kid made the mistake of putting a Queen poster in his locker. Despite the fact that our favorite stations played Queen every day, and we all could sing along to "We Will Rock You," and when someone brought a tape of Night at the Opera to school we all had our minds blown, saying you liked Queen confirmed your gayness. If you were a boy and you liked disco, you were the opposite of cool. But nobody made the connections between disco and homosexuality. Disco was John Travolta and the Bee Gees, stupid shit that girls liked. There were black kids at my school, but the cultural divide was so severe that I don't think it ever occurred to us to figure out what they were listening to, until we caught wind of Run DMC. A few years later, Thriller and Duran Duran replaced disco as the young rock fan's bogeyman.

Now, of course, I know better. Disco rules!
posted by hydrophonic at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, there was nothing whiter than what passed for disco in Chicagoland in the 1970's.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:02 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


10 cent beer in 1974 = 43 cents adjusted for inflation. Couldn't help but run the numbers.
posted by crapmatic at 12:24 PM on July 12, 2009


I am sooooo glad to have come of age later on when I did.
We got to have disco and rock, and whatever other genres we felt like too, with no hassles. Omnivorousness ftw!

You "Beatles or the Stones" guys got suckered hard.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:37 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


/has fight on beach, snogs bird in alleyway, drives moped off of cliff.
posted by Artw at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some of the Disco Sucks! campaign came from anti-black racism, but there were black people who disliked disco too. According to the Wikipedia article on Disco Demolition Night, the African-American actor, Michael Clarke Duncan, was a participant in the Disco Demolition riots. I've also read the African-American critic, Greg Tate, refer to disco as disCOINTELPRO, because he viewed it as a industry-driven conspiracy to water down home-grown funk music.
posted by jonp72 at 1:09 PM on July 12, 2009


The unspoken subtext was obvious: disco music was for homosexuals and black people.

I don't think any of my friends knew that it was originally a black or gay thing. It wasn't Rock, it seemed to come out of nowhere and it was culturally malignant. Our beloved Gods of Rock kept getting themselves photographed at Studio 54. When the Stones put out "Miss You" in 1978,it was just one fucking step too far.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:25 PM on July 12, 2009


I wasn't at Comiskey Park, and I would have been only 13 at the time. But I'm from that part of the Midwest, and I know it's people. I'd bet the Comiskey Park riot had very little to do with homophobia and/or racism but rather was a drunken reaction to being over-saturated with bad, cheesy, plastic music along with its shiny and fake subculture. Then again, I was a DIY punk rock kid, so what do I know? Sometimes I think perhaps MeFi has an element that is unduly reflexive politically-speaking.
posted by belvidere at 1:29 PM on July 12, 2009


Also, there was nothing whiter than what passed for disco in Chicagoland in the 1970's.

And yet Chicago must get its due visa vis the accidental eruption of so-called Acid House. The story (as I remember hearing it) is Genesis P Orridge and his Psychic TV crew were on tour in Chicago, circa 1986 or thereabouts, killing time in a record store when they noticed a section devoted to ACID HOUSE.

Being committed psychedelicists, they promptly bought a bunch of the records (mostly white label type stuff) gobbled lots of acid and proceeded to see (and feel) what happened. It turns out that "ACID" in the local Chicago slang just meant freshly pressed vinyl, so what Genesis P and his crowd were listening to whilst thwacked out of their gourds was just good ole deep groove disco house music ... but it changed the world anyway, because they took it back to Britain with them, endeavored to build their new sound around it and voila unleashed their version of ACID HOUSE upon the world (ie: the first genuine fusion of psychedelia and disco).

Thus was rave culture born.
posted by philip-random at 1:34 PM on July 12, 2009


And if it didn't happen that way, it should have.
posted by philip-random at 1:35 PM on July 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


And if it didn't happen that way, it should have.

I've heard that story too, but I don't think it's true. I think the name "acid house" came about in a much more obvious way: Phuture's "Acid Trax" was the first Chicago house track to use the TB-303, thus the 303 sound became known as "acid house" after the original track. The name already existed in Chicago as a definite reference to the TB-303 + minimal, heavy 4/4 beat sound before Psychic TV's early acid house releases in the UK. Genesis was definitely one of the first to play it to the UK dance club crowd and in Ibiza, though.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:12 PM on July 12, 2009


I remember that night. It was awesome. As for it being anti-african-american or gay, it was none of those things.

i remember the disco sucks phenomenon and i think people on both sides are making overly broad generalizations - my feelings about it were there wasn't enough going on in the foreground on a lot of these records and they were often too repetitive - something i still think about a lot of dance music - great backing track, but where's the song?

what a lot of people wanted was guitars and disco didn't give them enough - they also wanted lyrics more complicated than "fly robin fly up up to the sky" - they also didn't like their music smothered in orchestration - and what was really annoying about it was the way it had taken over top 40 radio

i'm not really sure that the white audience was totally against african american music - a lot of people my age had grown up listening to motown and soul records, which, by the way, senor cardgage, was the 3rd choice - it wasn't just "beatles or the stones" - in fact, top 40 stations in the late 60s were playing soul, country, acid rock, folk, sinatra and whatever else was popular - it was the most omnivorous period in the history of popular radio

so what happened? - rock music evolved into blaring metal and a lot of people thought that was just loud noise - r&b evolved into funk and a lot of people thought that was repetitive crap with screaming over it - and in the middle of it disco happened, with its insistence that the most important thing about a song is people's ability to dance to it and repetition and minimal foregrounds were good ways to acheive that

musically, a lot of people didn't like that - browse through the mocking credits on p-funk albums if you want to know what george clinton and co thought about disco and slick r&b

i don't think the average person in my hometown had any idea that disco was part of "gay culture" - i did, but i went to college elsewhere in my state and had been exposed to it

but the writer for the guardian is just too UK-centric to understand american musical culture - the disco sucks campaign was a demand to get it off the radio - and it pretty much did - the rock stations don't play it period - the r&b stations went to a much more funky and electro type sound - house music is not a major part of the american music scene except for the few house influenced pop songs that come up from time to time - and although the beat orientated sound of disco did permeate the rock music of the 80s, it was done with a different attitude towards songs and instrumentation than disco

as for me, i liked some and hated some

it was funny - in 1980 i went over to this house with a friend to see someone - and this 6 year old white girl had a 12 inch of rapper's delight and proceeded to blow my mind by rapping along to the long version of it - she had all 15 minutes of the damn thing memorized

at that moment i realized that disco was dead, rap was going to be a MAJOR form of music and rock had some real competition

i never got that feeling with disco

of course, the doors were doing that beat in 1969

---

The story (as I remember hearing it) is Genesis P Orridge and his Psychic TV crew were on tour in Chicago, circa 1986 or thereabouts, killing time in a record store when they noticed a section devoted to ACID HOUSE.

um, no, it was this song
posted by pyramid termite at 2:16 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth has it partly right: WDAI called itself "Disco DAI". And I thought that it was a stupid decision on WDAI's part; disco was already beginning to wind down, and switching formats was part of a long WDAI tradition (the running joke was that "DAI" stood for "Develop An Identity"). And I liked Steve Dahl's DAI morning show, a lot.

But, if disco was already dying out (I personally think that it jumped the shark not long after the Stones released a disco song, even though I like "Miss You" a lot), then there wasn't much of a reason to hate on disco, unless you're a DJ with a fragile ego, and I don't think that it was a coincidence that I started listening to WMET instead of following Steve Dahl's show to WLUP. He just got mean, and it wasn't just Disco Demo, although I thought it was a stupid stunt at the time and still do.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:12 PM on July 12, 2009


Well I suppose you gotta do something to make baseball watchable.
posted by cazoo at 3:48 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to live long enough that the experiences you lived through become part of "cultural history"--it makes you realize just how unbelievably hard it is to get all the nuances of these things right. Imagine how completely we probably screw up so many of the "in" references in Shakespeare's plays--half of the things that we earnestly unpack as being references to the counterreformation or what have you were probably up-to-the-second jokes about some in-joke meme that was flooding London for that month and was completely incomprehensible a year later.

I've been thinking of this a lot with the death of Michael Jackson. Hearing people saying solemnly such utterly untrue things as that he had to do all that surgery to himself so as to be acceptable to white audiences or the old B.S. claim that he was the first black artist ever to be shown on MTV etc. Attitudes to race (and sexuality) are so riven with contradictions, reservations, exceptions etc. that it's hard enough to say anything "true" about them even when you're talking about your own milieu. As soon as you're trying to puzzle out what it was "like" to live through the '70s or '80s when you weren't actually around...well, suffice to say that an awful lot of sheer nonsense gets spoken, and much of it gets solemnly nodded-along-to.

Glad to see most of the posters in this thread aren't solemnly nodding along to the particular nonsense in that Guardian piece Artw linked to.
posted by yoink at 3:54 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


WKRP's Dr. Johnny Fever hosted a disco show as Rip Tide in Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide.
Bonus: features the songs that were originally aired.

what a lot of people wanted was guitars and disco didn't give them enough - they also wanted lyrics more complicated than 'fly robin fly up up to the sky'

Chic had good guitars. And Billboard's 1975 Top 100 (same year as "Fly, Robin Fly") isn't exactly dominated by lyrical genius. And rock brought us classics like "Louie Louie."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2009


r&b evolved into funk and a lot of people thought that was repetitive crap with screaming over it

I'm trying very hard to imagine what it would have been like to go to a high school where funk music was thought of in those terms instead of blasted almost everywhere as the daily soundtrack, let alone where the 1979 Comiskey Park thing was referenced in heroic terms by anybody other than a few white guys with long hair and Triumph T-shirts, and I realize that I got immersed in a quite different place and culture than a lot of people.
posted by blucevalo at 4:00 PM on July 12, 2009


something i still think about a lot of dance music - great backing track, but where's the song?

Fact is, so much great dance music is just that, great shit to hear insanely loud on a dance floor ... but take it out of that context and it's rather incomplete.

Nice to have a choice of mixes, which is something that disco very much did bring to us.
posted by philip-random at 4:05 PM on July 12, 2009


Anti-black? Nope. Anti-gay? Nope. I hate disco because I'm anti-Travolta.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 5:16 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


American "black" music in the 1970s ... a quick personal history

... a continuation all the cool end of the 60s stuff, Sly + the Family Stone, Motown etc, Norman Whitfield's various masterpieces, Curtis Mayfield's masterpieces, Isaac Hayes, the sound of Philadelphia, War (the band), any number of extended instrumental freakouts (think rare groove), Roberta Flack, Billy Paul, Gladys Knight + the Pips, Harold Melvin + the Bluenotes, Barry White

DISCO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DISCO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DISCO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DISCO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and then I just got into punk rock.
posted by philip-random at 5:19 PM on July 12, 2009


Faster than a speeding bulette touches on a point that I seem to make in every "disco sucks" thread on the internet, ever: If the "disco sucks" movement was homophobic and racist, why were the main targets a blond trio of very heterosexual men and a movie about a guy so straight he's dogging two women?
posted by pxe2000 at 5:59 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is it just me or is the BleacherReport article ("worst idea ever" link) straight up plagiarism from Wikipedia?

Not gonna be the "bullshit guy".
posted by breath at 6:42 PM on July 12, 2009


Good Disco:

Let No Man Put Asunder.

Love is the Message.

I Feel Love

Fifth of Beethoven

Heartbeat.

Sing Sing.

I dunno, there was good stuff out there...
posted by empath at 8:19 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


crapmatic: "10 cent beer in 1974 = 43 cents adjusted for inflation. Couldn't help but run the numbers."

Actually, if you also factor in the change in the average weight of an American by referring to numbers I made up and math I didn't do, it works out that people got over four times as drunk as a modern American would on the same amount of beer.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:25 PM on July 12, 2009


If the "disco sucks" movement was homophobic and racist, why were the main targets a blond trio of very heterosexual men and a movie about a guy so straight he's dogging two women?

Because the ear-shattering falsettos in "How Deep Is Your Love" and Samantha Sang's "Emotion" = teh gay?
posted by blucevalo at 8:25 PM on July 12, 2009


If the "disco sucks" movement was homophobic and racist, why were the main targets a blond trio of very heterosexual men and a movie about a guy so straight he's dogging two women?

Do you guys really not know the history of Disco? It was a gay black scene that got co-opted by mainstream culture.

The immediate aftermath of the disco sucks movement seems to have been a golden-age from discos, paradoxically -- the Warehouse, Paradise Garage, the Loft. Only the people who really loved the music were left. And the end result was house music and techno, which is still the dominant music world wide right now.
posted by empath at 8:36 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those of you who are on the disco sucks bandwagon -- I'm going to bet that none of you ever heard disco the way it was meant to be heard -- at a real, underground disco with a largely gay/black crowd. I never did (too young), but I have been to deep-house/disco house parties and I'm not really a fan of the music in general, but some how the crowd makes it work. It really is an amazing vibe.

For the people who went to those clubs, it was more than music, it was their identity. I'm sure it was hard enough being gay and black in the 70s. I can't imagine what it must have been like to watch the riots while a bunch of angry white guys burned YOUR MUSIC. It must have been absolutely miserable for them to watch. What did they ever do to hurt anyone except make music and build a scene that everybody loved?

The whole thing just seems amazingly cruel and spiteful to me.
posted by empath at 8:46 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you guys really not know the history of Disco? It was a gay black scene that got co-opted by mainstream culture.

So? People weren't rejecting the history of the movement (about which they knew nothing), they were rejecting its unbelievably white (and "white-audience-ready"--hello Donna Summer) mainstream representatives. I'd be pretty amazed if a bunch of hip gay/black people really shed tears at people saying that they thought the BeeGees sucked--or thought that this was some direct assault upon "their identities."

Nobody thought of disco as "that damn black music that's taken over the airwaves." That battle had been fought and lost in the 50's. That popular music is rooted in black music was an accepted given for fans of pretty much everything but country in the 70s. You would no more have opposed the BeeGees for being "black influenced" than you would have opposed the Stones for the same. In fact, the idea that the BeeGees music was somehow "blacker" (or had a "blacker" history) than the Stones' music would have seemed equally laughable to the "disco sucks" crowd AND to BeeGees fans.
posted by yoink at 9:05 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I spoke to Mike Veeck just this past Wednesday and he looks like hes in fine shape

great. I was referring to Bill Veeck, his father, owner of the team at the time, who died in 86.
posted by cogneuro at 10:04 PM on July 12, 2009


In fact, the idea that the BeeGees music was somehow "blacker"

Disco wasn't 'black' -- it was gay and black. There's a difference. It was also music that women liked, so on top of being racist and homophobic, the backlash was misogynistic, too. Sorry, it was just mean-spirited and nasty, and there's no excusing it. There is a difference between not liking a kind of music and gathering together tens of thousands of straight white guys to burn records largely made for a gay black audience.

I think there's a good take on it in this book.

Just quoting a little bit of it:

"...in the late '70s disco was associated with racial and sexual minorities-outsiders to the world of '70s rock. Explaining Rolling Stone's hostility to disco, one critic there admitted that "It was something that existed outside of the rock & roll population that we belonged to personally... It was a different audience, blacks and gays and women."...White rockers' antagonism toward disco mirrored the anger and alienation many white leftists felt as the Movement of the sixties unraveled and splintered into many movements - black power, gay rights and feminism. Just as many white lefty men felt themselves shoved to the sidelines by women, ethnic minorities, and gays, many rock fans believed disco was taking over, possibly even supplanting, rock."

I actually am just old enough to remember the early 80s and late 70s and I do remember disco being called 'gay', and listening to anything remotely disco sounding was considered 'gay'. And that kind of stigmatization lasted well into the late 80s, until it became 'techno' and safe for straight guys to listen to again.
posted by empath at 10:22 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a difference between not liking a kind of music and gathering together tens of thousands of straight white guys to burn records largely made for a gay black audience.

But by 1979 it WASN'T being "largely made for a gay black audience," it was being made to satiate what had become a fad among a straight white audience.

And it WAS a fad. "Miss You" has already been mentioned, but just about every entertainer in the late 1970s pumped out a disco album. Must I remind you of the Ethel Merman Disco Album?
posted by dw at 12:13 AM on July 13, 2009


Disco wasn't 'black' -- it was gay and black.

the mistake you're making is assuming that perception of disco to insiders is the same as it was to outsiders - and i don't really think you can argue that the zillions of copies of saturday night fever were all sold to gay and black people - in fact, disco as a mass market phenomenon was not gay or black

i don't recall ever hearing on the radio, "and now here's a disco song for our gay and black friends" - i was aware of the connection with the gay subculture but not that many people in the midwest were - and disco wasn't necessarily the first thing people thought of when they thought of black music

your basic problem is that you're assuming rock journalists actually know something about culture, especially those sections of the culture they despise

I actually am just old enough to remember the early 80s and late 70s and I do remember disco being called 'gay'

i don't - gay as a slang term for bad came a bit later than that and i won't tire people's ears with what gay people were called back then by the intolerant

and listening to anything remotely disco sounding was considered 'gay'. And that kind of stigmatization lasted well into the late 80s, until it became 'techno' and safe for straight guys to listen to again.

you mean house - the whole electro/techno thing had somewhat different roots
posted by pyramid termite at 5:12 AM on July 13, 2009


From the racist and homophobic article:

Midwesterners didn't want that intimidating [disco] style shoved down their throats

Very revealing. These are exactly the phrases ("intimidating" and "style shoved down the throat") that racists and homophobes respectively use *all the time*. No correlation, I'm sure.
posted by DU at 6:04 AM on July 13, 2009


don't forget, DU, they drink beer, too
posted by pyramid termite at 6:10 AM on July 13, 2009


I'm not sure if this scene from the final episode of Freaks and Geeks can claim to have the last word on disco sucking, but it's always stuck with me:

DISCO DJ (Joel Hodgson): Hey, aren't you one of those guys who's always running in here yelling disco sucks? What's the matter? Cat got your bong, man? Is that how you learned to communicate, running in here and yelling and stuff? Is that what your precious "rock and roll" teaches you?

KEN (Seth Rogen): No, it teaches me that DISCO SUCKS!
posted by Spatch at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also revealing is that rap got, and continues to get from people who think hiphop and rap are the same thing, the same racist deal. Where's the movement declaring that country music sucks, mocking the funny hats and pants worn pulled all the way up?
posted by DU at 6:28 AM on July 13, 2009


DU: There is that old canard about people who claim to have diverse taste in music...except that they don't listen to rap, country, or metal. (Which is interesting, since those are three of the most working-class/racially-identified genres out there.)
posted by pxe2000 at 6:33 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was an eight year old Detroit Tigers fan who tuned in to watch the game last night. I, of course, understood none of the underlying issues, which made me about as perplexed as George Kell and Al Kaline were in the broadcast booth. In the end, though, I went to bed happy because the Tigers won by forfeit.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:06 AM on July 13, 2009


whole electro/techno thing had somewhat different roots

Not really. Juan Atkins, etc, were influenced by Chicago house.
posted by empath at 7:39 AM on July 13, 2009


Disco wasn't 'black' -- it was gay and black.

Except that, again, while this claim might have some historical merit (i.e., "this is music that came out of gay and black milieus") it is simply, patently, and self-evidently false when you refer to disco as a top ten phenomenon. You're clearly not old enough to actually remember what it was like to be a teenager listening to the radio in the late 1970s. It was almost wall-to-wall disco. And no, this was not because of the unbelievable buying power of the unstoppable gay and black consumer juggernaut. This was because the people who in 1973 had made "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" a smash hit, or who had, in 1974, made "The Way We Were" a smash hit, or who had, in in the mid-70s made Captain and Frickin' Tennille unavoidable had decided that disco was the latest, greatest, most wonderfulest thing. In other words, the people buying disco, the people to whom disco was marketed, the people one associated with disco, were simply "contemporary teenagers." Nobody thought disco was particularly "gay" and, as I say, everyone would have laughed out loud at the idea that it was particularly "black." What we thought was that it was just the latest vapid, manufactured pop craze--and like wannabe hipsters since time immemorial we didn't want to be associated with "the latest thing."

To say that people who disliked disco in the 70s were anti-gay or anti-black is like saying that those who disliked the Macarena craze in the 90s did so because of their racist hatred of music with afro-cuban roots.
posted by yoink at 9:27 AM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was an eight year old Detroit Tigers fan who tuned in to watch the game last that night...

Correction to conform to the fact that I am 38, not 8.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2009


You're clearly not old enough to actually remember what it was like to be a teenager listening to the radio in the late 1970s. It was almost wall-to-wall disco.

Don't forget the equally unavoidable, bland and obnoxious 'soft rock', but nobody was burning Chicago and Air Supply records -- why is that?
posted by empath at 9:53 AM on July 13, 2009


I guess here is the point -- Fine, it was oversold and overhyped. But it was hardly the only oversold and overhyped genre in the history of music. Why was this one in particular targetted for burning and riots? My interpretation is that it was threatening to white, working class straight males. It was too black and too female and it made them uncomfortable. Let's keep in mind where the guys burning those records flocked to next-- the overtly and obviously heterosexual jock rock of Van Halen and AC/DC. The blissed out sexual ambiguousness of disco got replaced by guitar rock about nailing lots of hot babes.
posted by empath at 10:05 AM on July 13, 2009


Where's the movement declaring that country music sucks

I grew up in Oklahoma in the 70s and 80s, and trust me, all us city kids agreed that country music sucked, and we made a ton of fun of the kids in the hats and the shitkickers listening to Randy Travis.

There's long been a "country music sucks" skein in this society, from CBS canceling Hee Haw in 1969 because they didn't think they could sell advertising to bumpkins, to this undercurrent of "Bush listens to country which just proves how stupid he is." And the "de-bumpkin-ification" of country has been a running battle since Patsy Cline and countrypolitan.

You could argue that disco went through a "de-gay-ification" in '77. I mean, you had the Bee Gees showing off their hairy chests coming out of the slightly opened double-knit shirts. Look at ABBA's album covers too -- There's no way you can argue Benny or Bjorn are anything but manly men in the fashions of the time. And, of course, you've got Travolta running around banging two women and trying to rape one of them. By '79, the only really blatantly gay disco band with any success was the Village People.
posted by dw at 11:18 AM on July 13, 2009


Why was this one in particular targetted for burning and riots?

Well, it wasn't. One baseball promoter had a stupid idea which licenced a bunch of drunken sports fans to go crazy. Drunken sports fans destroy their towns when their teams win. Apart from this one--rather trivial--event, the entire "disco sucks" movement amounted, for the most part, to a bunch of teenagers mocking the tastes of other teenagers. Yes, earth shattering, I know.
posted by yoink at 11:30 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fine, it was oversold and overhyped. But it was hardly the only oversold and overhyped genre in the history of music. Why was this one in particular targetted for burning and riots?

Because in 1979, while we were mired in a terrible recession, one DJ who'd been booted off a disco station started running a gimmick based on the growing backlash against the disco hype. And they decided to offer this "disco demolition" at Comiskey, thinking it'd bring in a few thousand more fans to the ballpark. Well over 40K showed up. They blew up the records and that was that, only the kids decided to all invade the field. If you actually watch the video, you'd see that the invasion happened several minutes AFTER the demolition. A few kids ran on the field, and then everyone ran on the field.

And remember, this was back when this sort of stuff (pitch invasion) happened all the time in baseball. Morganna The Kissing Bandit ring a bell to anyone?

It was an odd duck, really. The kids didn't march out of the stadium and burn gay black owned businesses. There's no record of gay bashings that happened as a result. No one died, a few dozen were arrested, and that was pretty much it. It doesn't seem like anyone was angry, it seems more like they were a bunch of kids who wanted to have some fun, get drunk, and see some surrealism in action. The riot was less about disco and more about being there.

As for the burning, well, the Beatles had their records burned, as did rock and roll artists (black and white) in the 1950s. There were multiple record burnings of metal artists in the 80s. Record burnings seem to come with fads.
posted by dw at 11:31 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't forget the equally unavoidable, bland and obnoxious 'soft rock', but nobody was burning Chicago and Air Supply records -- why is that?

because music like that had always been a staple of the top 40 and radio stations had always been careful not to overdo it

Why was this one in particular targetted for burning and riots?

that wasn't a riot - we've had bigger riots in kalamazoo and lansing for no other reason than a lot of people got too drunk and the cops tried to calm them down

the truth is the music was hype, the protest was hype, the disturbance was hype, and all those finding great social significance in it are hyping, too
posted by pyramid termite at 6:14 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


But Disco did suck, and it still does. That's when I started liking punk rock.
posted by mike3k at 6:16 PM on July 13, 2009


you mean house - the whole electro/techno thing had somewhat different roots

That is fantastically wrong. Derrick May, Juan Atkins et al were all house heads who started experimenting with less natural sounds and more regimented beat structures.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:31 AM on July 15, 2009


The whole concept of continuously mixed dance music on vinyl records is from disco. Without disco, there's no house, no techno, no electro, no trance, no drum & bass, no hip-hop. I'd posit that disco is the root of more music being released today than rock & roll is.
posted by empath at 9:30 AM on July 15, 2009


Someone could make a pretty good case that the whole concept of continuously mixed dance music on vinyl records comes from Jamaica. Not me, though--I've got to do some actual work today. Check out Wake the Town and Tell the People, by Norman Stolzoff, if you want to read more abotu the subject.
posted by box at 10:57 AM on July 15, 2009


I think parallel evolution.

I think one could definitely make the argument that hip-hop was more influenced by Jamaican sound systems than disco. But it obviously drew from both traditions.
posted by empath at 11:18 AM on July 15, 2009


The whole concept of continuously mixed dance music on vinyl records is from disco.

Sorry all, it was James Last.

Last released an album, Non-Stop Dancing, in 1965, a recording of brief renditions of popular songs, all tied together by an insistent dance beat and crowd noises. It was a hit and helped make him a major European star. Over the next four decades, Last released over 190 records, including several more volumes of Non-Stop Dancing.

Not that he didn't pick up a few disco grooves along the way.
posted by philip-random at 12:16 PM on July 15, 2009


Uh, he wasn't mixing records.
posted by empath at 1:21 PM on July 15, 2009


Uh, he wasn't mixing records.

You're right. I'm wrong. Although throwing James Last into the mix does kind of point out that the whole notion of a seamless non-stop dancing experience is older (and perhaps straighter) than we think.
posted by philip-random at 2:18 PM on July 15, 2009


Nothing comes out of a vacuum, obviously. Trance dancing is an old as civilization.

"On Bacchants, on!
With the glitter of Tmolus,
which flows with gold, 200
chant songs to Dionysus,
to the loud beat of our drums.
Celebrate the god of joy
with your own joy,

with Phrygian cries and shouts!
When sweet sacred pipes [160]
play out their rhythmic holy song,
in time to the dancing wanderers,
then to the mountains,
on, on to the mountains." 210
Then the bacchanalian woman
is filled with total joy—
like a foal in pasture
right beside her mother—
her swift feet skip in playful dance.

That's the ancient greek equivalent of: "Come on, move your body, gonna make you sweat."
posted by empath at 2:48 PM on July 15, 2009


Disco was a more important outsider force than punk in the battle against the Establishment rock supremacy of the 1970s, as disco was the revolutionary force that illuminated a different path to follow than rock. Punk, meanwhile, was the rebellious force that needed to fight against something, and it chose among many other objects of derision, to brand the Establishment rock scene as "dinosaurs." Rock was an enemy in punk's eyes; in disco's eyes, rock was virtually altogether ignored. By the end of the disco era, it had seduced many rock stars into crossing over, from the Rolling Stones to Rod Stewart to, um, Yes*, earning these bands scorn and contempt in the process. Very few Establishment rock stars got punk**, and at this late time of night, the only ones who come readily to mind are Neil Young and Marc Bolan, with maybe David Bowie and Iggy Pop thrown in as well.

It was the ascent of disco crossing over from its gay/black/female origins to the mainstream that fueled some of its resentment. The ubiquity of disco from 1976-79 or 1980 fueled more. The crossovers by Establishment rock stars was, in my mind, the proverbial spark. You now have these rock Insiders making Outsider music, thereby threatening the hegemony of rock music that dates back to the mid-1950s. After nearly two decades of musical and cultural dominance, the rock music world was effectively being challenged in the same way that rock'n'roll itself challenged the music scene. Disco sidestepped direct battles with rock, as it provided its own culture that had little to do with that of rock--and for a few years in the late 70s, disco succeeded in its challenge.

Disco lost out in the late 70s, but not because Steve Dahl (back when he was thin!) blew up a few records to the joy of Falstaff-soaked fans in Kaminski Park. By the time of this protest, as mentioned earlier by others, disco was starting to fade as a fad; Dahl and his Insane Coho Lips posse were kicking at a downward-seeking trend. In the end, disco may have lost the "battle," but it has done well for itself in the "war." Disco not only paved the way for the 80s house and techno scenes--which itself have spawned eleventy billion musical genres--but also showed the then-nascent hiphop/rap scene the way to work around the Establishment rock world. Only a few short years after disco's demise, Aerosmith briefly became the 80s equivalent of Rod Stewart with its work on the Run-DMC cover of "Walk This Way;" unlike Rod--who has really showed himself as the most base of trend-seekers--both Aerosmith and Run-DMC prospered...and the beat goes on.






*OK, Yes gets some credit for writing a disco crossover song with an anti-whaling theme, but only just. If you are brave enough to find the original song, especially its accompanying video, consider this to be your only warning.

**When did other rock stars, and the mainstream, get punk? Sometime in 1991.

posted by stannate at 12:34 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great comment, agreed 100%.

Of course now the big thing is punk-disco.
posted by empath at 9:40 AM on July 16, 2009


Disco was a more important outsider force than punk in the battle against the Establishment rock supremacy of the 1970s,

I'm trying to wrap my head around a version of music history that can see the BeeGees making millions of dollars for Atlantic Records as some kind of "revolution" against the "Establishment."

Maybe I should be thinking about the more lasting philosophical contributions of such revolutionary vanguard members as KC and the Sunshine Band?

You know what the music "Establishment" likes? Whatever is selling. Disco sold, the "Establishment" said "cool, let's put out a lot more of that," heaped lots of Grammys on it, and walked away with a pile of cash.
posted by yoink at 10:02 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe you have just no idea what disco was before the Beegee's got involved. It was around for 10 years before Saturday Night Favor came out.

The revolutionary disco tracks were the 11 minute instrumental remixes, not the top 40 radio songs.

For example.

It's like judging 1960s rock and roll based on the creative output of the Monkees and the Archies, rather than Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan.
posted by empath at 10:11 AM on July 16, 2009


The revolution of disco (at it's best) was that it was pure body music, whereas typical rock criticism focused on the authenticity of the artist and what the music was about.

Disco was good if it made you move, (and maybe secondarily if it made you feel happy) and there was really no other criteria for quality.

Most of the radio crap wasn't really disco. Disco was continuously mixed 9 or 10 minute songs played in a dark club packed full of dancers. If you're listening to a 4 minute radio edit on your 8 track at home, that's not disco. Disco's revolution was a new way of interacting with music, not really a genre of music, per se.

The fault of the record companies was trying to repackage something that worked on the dancefloor into something that worked in bite-sized chunks on the radio. Dance music doesn't really click unless you're actually dancing, and usually only if you're dancing for hours.
posted by empath at 10:20 AM on July 16, 2009


Not sure why you link to an album released in 1978 to illustrate the pre-BeeGees history of disco. The claim that disco goes back to the mid-60s is extremely idiosyncratic, although obviously there are never any really hard and fast "beginnings" to any artistic movement.

Many people point to Manu Dibango's 1972 Soul Makossa as the "first" disco record (and that claim is usually regarded as controversial because that is seen as too early, not as too late). It was released on some small French label and became a sensation in NY discos. Guess what radical anti-Establishment record company bought up the rights to the song as soon as its popularity became recognized. Atlantic.

It's like judging 1960s rock and roll based on the creative output of the Monkees and the Archies, rather than Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan.

And your argument is like suggesting that people who disliked the Archies did so because they hated Hendrix and Dylan. The anti-disco movement was an anti-BeeGees, anti-KC and the Sunshine Band, anti-Village People movement. It wasn't an anti-Sly-and-the-Family-Stone movement.
posted by yoink at 10:26 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and by the way, the very first US press notice on the disco phenomenon (entirely laudatory)--the first use of the word "disco" in print in the US--appeared in that pillar of the Rock establishment, Rolling Stone in 1973 in an article called "Discotheque Rock." Here's a link to some key extracts. A bit odd how they failed to recognize that this phenomenon was a revolutionary rejection of everything they held dear, isn't it?
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2009


Disco was good if it made you move, (and maybe secondarily if it made you feel happy) and there was really no other criteria for quality.

Ah yes, "it's got a beat and you can dance to it"--the revolutionary slogan that signalled a complete break with the entire history of popular music up until that time.
posted by yoink at 10:40 AM on July 16, 2009


Not sure why you link to an album released in 1978 to illustrate the pre-BeeGees history of disco.

I picked it as an example of a type of song (extended dance remix, rather than a commercial radio song)
posted by empath at 10:44 AM on July 16, 2009


A bit odd how they failed to recognize that this phenomenon was a revolutionary rejection of everything they held dear, isn't it?

Rolling Stone did a few disco issues and were inundated with hate-mail every time they did it.
posted by empath at 10:45 AM on July 16, 2009


The claim that disco goes back to the mid-60s is extremely idiosyncratic, although obviously there are never any really hard and fast "beginnings" to any artistic movement.

The Loft parties started in 1970 -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Loft The disco as a place needed to exist before music for the disco could be made, obviously. So you have a chicken and egg problem. What did discos play before music was made for the discos? Obviously music that was created before the Loft existed-- so you had to have had 'proto-disco', at least, prior to the 70s.

Disco existed as soon as you had a night club with the right sound system and a DJ that took two records and mixed them together non-stop.

IMO, Disco isn't really the music, but the way the music is played and listened to. David Mancuso was a disco dj before disco records existed, in other words.
posted by empath at 10:53 AM on July 16, 2009


Rolling Stone did a few disco issues and were inundated with hate-mail every time they did it.

I'll concede your entire argument (or your several unrelated arguments, to be precise) if you can show me one actual issue of Rolling Stone devoted NOT to the chart-topping disco acts of the mid-70s that you concede are the "Archies" of their era but to the "Hendrixes and Dylans" of the movement, and show me that this issue generated a tidal-wave of hate-mail.
posted by yoink at 10:59 AM on July 16, 2009


They did a feature in 1975 that focused on 'the good stuff'

They got 'decidedly racist' hate mail from readers in response to even 'half-hearted' disco covers.
posted by empath at 11:24 AM on July 16, 2009


covers=coverage.
posted by empath at 11:24 AM on July 16, 2009


The comment in that book is a very, very, very long way from proving that they were "inundated with hate mail." It says, without differentiating between the 75 and 79 issues (and the 79 issue was devoted to the Village People) that they received some "decidedly racist" mail--it doesn't say how much, it doesn't say what it was in response to, it doesn't say anything very useful, in fact. Google Books won't let you see what the reference for the footnote is, so we don't even know how good the authority is for this rather wishy-washy claim.

So we have the magazine for establishment rock writing a long, enthusiastic and discriminating article about disco, and we have a vague statement that that enthusiastic generated some negative response. The "disco was a revolution that shook the Establishment to its core!" argument isn't looking very strong, is it?
posted by yoink at 11:37 AM on July 16, 2009


Also, on doing a little further research, that August 1975 disco-focused "Dancing Madness" special supplement was about a lot of chart-topping acts (if, at least, the cover copy is to be believed). To suggest that Vince Aletti's piece on "a selection of the best disco music out right now" was the "focus" of the supplement is a tad disingenuous.
posted by yoink at 12:05 PM on July 16, 2009


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