entered your home as Marty Angelo debuted America's first disco
television show, Disco Step-By-Step TM, in January 1977.
Disco '77, Invitation To Dance (a spinoff/ripoff of Angelo's show)
and Denny Terrio's Dance Fever soon followed as the networks hopped
aboard the disco gravy train.
Then came that
damned Saturday Night Fever movie. The mainstream media
discovered disco. Everything was Fever this and Fever
that. White suits and silly dance floor poses abounded as
grandma and the tragically un-hip shook their collective booties to
shrill Bee Gees tunes. It was in your face, on your radio and
in your bar. There was no escape. And make no mistake:
this disco trend was mighty exclusive. You were either
"in," or you were out.
As the '70s
boogied to a close, record companies pumped out disco records by the
ton. Quantity replaced quality. A lot of the music simply
sucked. Sales dropped and the recording industry pushed the
panic button. And then came the backlash.
decade of dancing and social interaction was reduced to two tragic
clich's: polyester and Saturday Night Fever. Disco music-which
offered temporary escape from our low-paying jobs, high unemployment
rates and energy crises-wasn't cool anymore. Disco now
sucked. It became the "d-word." Disco was officially
pronounced dead by the mainstream media. A "disco is
dead" fest at a ballpark sparked a riot. Punk, New Wave
and glitzy, overproduced Top 40 became the new flavors-of-the-month.
Nightclubbers, perhaps weary of a good seven or eight years of
disco-style entertainment, sought alternative
distractions. Buildings which once housed discotheques
became party bars, closed down or succumbed to early-morning fires of
didn't die. America didn't want to stop dancing. Wounded,
the entertainment form slipped back to its "underground"
origins to heal. Gay clubs imported Eurodisco records long
after the American labels abandoned the genre. As the "Me
Decade" dawned, patrons were still able to dance to disco
music-they just had to look a little harder to find it. Disco
was now referred to as "dance music." Citing the
alienation factor of the d-word, Disco Magazine changed its name to
Dance Music Magazine. The legendary Billboard Magazine Disco
Conventions held in New York in the '70s gave way to the New Music
Seminar. Dance clubs played mixtures of rap, dance, hip-hop
and New Music. House music became prominent in the late '80s,
followed by acid house and techno. No matter how it was
labeled, the music shared a common concept: humans dancing to a
steady drumbeat. Dance parties are now referred to as raves.
Just as big
band and '50s greaser music experienced resurgences, disco music is
enjoying newfound popularity. Young adults shake their
Dockers-covered backsides to sounds produced before many of them were
born. Peter Brown and Village People have completely new
followings. Disco records-now re-released on CDs-are the
"oldies" of the new millennium. The
Lionel Richie is back in the studios while Donna Summer recently
covered an Andrea Bocelli ballad backed by uptempo drumbeats.
Curiously, club owners and radio stations-still wary of the dreaded
d-word-refuse to call it what it really is: disco music.
Instead, they advertise it as "old school" or "classics."
really died-it simply evolved. We don't care what you call it
-- just promise us you'll never, ever strike another one of those
ridiculous Travolta poses on the dance floor again.