Disco's Not Dead

by Timothy Gabriele

13 July 2009


July 12th, was the 30th anniversary of disco Demolition Day, a day when radio host Steve Dahl declared a cultural war on the aforementioned music by blowing up stacks of records in Comiskey Park in Chicago. It’s now generally accepted that the seething crowds were at least partially motivated by the subcultural and multicultural context of disco’s reign, seeing the gay, black, latino, and women-friendly movement as an affront to the ordained thrown of rock, which was at this point mainly a chauvinist enterprise. That this came at the height of radio’s racial re-segregation formatting certainly encouraged the backlash. In the aftermath, disco was declared dead, which was widely accepted as a historical platitude for years, and even still is today. “I think it was a fad and it was probably on its way out. This probably hastened its demise,” Steve Dahl said in 2004, reflecting on the incident on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown

While disco may have become a dirty word in mainstream culture after scores of alpha males began parading around in “Disco Sucks” and “Death Before Disco” T-shirts and the clubs began collapsing from the white lines snorted across broken mirror tables, disco continued to expand exponentially. Indeed, years later, the explosion in Comsikey Park seems to have scattered disco’s ashes across the globe, where it has manifested in myriad different vital forms. Ironically enough, the two teams playing that night, Detroit and Chicago, became the epicenters of disco’s revitalization in both house and techno music.

Below is a smattering of disco from its heyday through the present. It is by no means a complete representation, but hopefully you will agree that this is dynamic and exciting music, whose shelf-life has already far surpassed many of the rock dinosaurs being defended at the time of the disco demolition. 

First Choice—The Player (Philly Groove, 1974)

Cerrone-Supernature (Atlantic, 1977)

Heatwave—Groove Line (Epic, 1977)

Coati Mundi ft. Kid Creole—Mi No Pop I (Ze, 1981)

Bobby O—She Has a Way (O, 1982)

Trans X—Living on Video (Polydor, 1983)

Class Action—Weekend (Jive, 1983)

Aleem—Release Yourself (NIA, 1984)

Cherelle—I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On (Tabu, 1984)

Escape From New York—Fire In My Heart (Rollerball, 1984)

Indian Ocean—School Bell Tree House (Sleeping Bag, 1985)

EPMD—I’m Housin’ (Fresh, 1987)

M/A/R/R/S—Pump Up the Volume (4AD/Island/Polygram, 1987)

Salt N’ Pepa—Push It (Next Plateau/London, 1987)

Inner City—Good Life (KMS/ Virgin, 1988)

Tyree—Hard Core Hip House (DJ International, 1988)

The Untouchables—Dance to the Rhythm (Strictly Rhythm, 1991)

The Element—Oh You Got Me (Rhythm Front Mix) (Nervous, 1993)

The Fabulous Baker Boys—Oh Boy (Ramsey & Fen Mix) (Multiply, 1997)

Herbert with Dani Siciliano—Around the House (Phonography, 1997)

Todd Edwards—Never Far From You (i!, 1998)

Data 80—Love was Made for Two (Force Tracks, 2001)

Metro Area—Soft Hoop (Environ, 2002)

Inland Knights—The Game (Drop Music, 2006)

Professor Genius—Orange Coco (Tropical Computer System, 2007)

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