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Disco Fan
Disco Fan

Disco is a genre of dance music that originated in clubs that catered to African American, psychedelic and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and early 1970s. While disco was a form of black commercial pop music and a craze among black gay men especially, it did not catch mainstream attention until it was picked up by the predominantly white gay clubs of New York. Latinos and 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, in February 1970, the New York City DJ David Mancuso opened The Loft, a members-only private dance club set in his own home. Most agree that the first disco songs were released in 1973, though some claim Manu Dibango's 1972 Soul Makossa to be the first disco record. 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.

Well-known late 1970s disco performers included Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Chic, and The Jacksons. Summer would become the first well-known and most popular disco artist, giving her the title 'The Queen of Disco', and also played a part in pioneering the electronic sound that later became a part of disco (see below). While performers and singers garnered the lion's share of public attention, the behind-the-scenes producers played an equal, if not more important role in disco, since they often usually 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.

An angry backlash against disco music and culture emerged in the United States hitting its peak with the July 1979 Disco Demolition Night riot. While the popularity of disco in the United States declined markedly as a result of the backlash, the genre continued to be popular elsewhere during the 1980s.

The disco sound, style and ethos has its roots in the late 1960s. Psychedelic culture's overwhelming sound, trippy lighting, and hallucinogens would influence the disco scene. 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 discussed in the next paragraph. In addition the positivity, lack of irony and earnestness of the hippies informed proto disco music like M.F.S.B.'s "Love Is the Message".

Philly and New York soul were evolutions of the Motown sound. The Philly Sound is typified by lavish percussion, which became a prominent part of mid-1970s disco songs. Early songs with disco elements include "Only the Strong Survive" (Jerry Butler, 1968), "Message to Love" (The Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1969), "Soul Makossa" (Manu Dibango, 1972) and "The Love I Lost" (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), Westend Records (Mel Cheren), Casablanca (Neil Bogart), and Prelude (Marvin Schlachter) to name a few. They inspired and influenced such prolific European dance-track producers as Giorgio Moroder and Jean-Marc Cerrone. Moroder was the Italian producer, keyboardist, and composer who produced many songs of the singer Donna Summer. These included the 1975 hit "Love to Love You Baby", a 17-minute-long song with "shimmering sound and sensual attitude". Allmusic.com calls Moroder "one of the principal architects of the disco sound".

The disco sound was also shaped by Tom Moulton who wanted to extend the enjoyment of the music — thus single-handedly creating the "Remix" which has influenced many other latter genres such as hip hop, techno, and pop. DJs and remixers would often remix (i.e., re-edit) existing songs using reel-to-reel tape machines. Their remixed versions would add in percussion breaks, new sections, and new sounds. Influential DJs and remixers who helped to establish what became known as the "disco sound" included David Mancuso, Tom Moulton, Nicky Siano, Shep Pettibone, the legendary and much-sought-after Larry Levan, Walter Gibbons, and later, New York–born Chicago "Godfather of House" Frankie Knuckles.

Disco was also shaped by nightclub DJs such as Francis Grasso, who used multiple record players to seamlessly mix tracks from genres such as soul, funk and pop music at discothèques, and was the forerunner to later styles such as hip-hop and house. Women also played important roles at the turntable. Karen Cook, the first female disco DJ in the United States, spun the vinyl hits from 1974 – 1977 at 'Elan, Houston, TX, and also programmed music for clubs throughout the US that were owned by McFaddin Ventures.

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. Other chart-topping songs included "Walking in Rhythm" by The Blackbyrds, "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae and "Love's Theme" by Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. Also in 1975, 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)". Also significant 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".

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 Music including Perry Como, who re-recorded his 1929 and 1939 hit, Temptation, in 1975 as well as some unlikely Country artists such as Bill Anderson (Double S) and Ronnie Milsap (High Heel Sneakers). Even the I Love Lucy theme wasn't spared from being disco-ized.

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, 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.

As one of the first movies to be scored with disco music before Saturday Night Fever, the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me garnered great popularity from composer Marvin Hamlisch's score, especially the disco-flavored Bond 77 opening track.

The release of the film and soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever in December 1977, which became the best-selling soundtrack of all time, turned disco into a mainstream phenomenon. This in turn led many non-disco artists to record disco songs at the height of its popularity. Many of these 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" (1979), Elvis Presley's "If You Talk In Your Sleep" (1973), The Eagles' "One of These Nights" (1975), The Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street" (1979), Barry Manilow’s "Copacabana (song)" (1978), The Rolling Stones' "Hot Stuff" (1976) and "Miss You" (1978), Michael Jackson's "Rock with You" (1979), "Elton John "Victim of Love" 1979, The Jacksons "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" (1979), "Are You Ready for Love" (1979) Aerosmith "Give it up" (1977) and "The Hands That Feeds You" (1977), David Bowie "John I'm Only Dancing (Again)" (1975), Bette Midler's "Married Men" (1979), Dolly Parton's "Baby I'm Burning" (1978), "Street Player" - Chicago (1979), "The Main Event/Fight" - Barbra Streisand (1979), Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" (1979), Wings’ "Goodnight Tonight" (1979), Ann-Margret's "Love Rush" (1979), Kiss' "I Was Made for Lovin' You" (1979), Electric Light Orchestra’s "Shine a Little Love" and "Last Train to London" (1979), Isaac Hayes' "Don't Let Go" (1980), The Spinners' "Working My Way Back to You" (1980), Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" (1980), and George Benson's "Give Me the Night" (1980).

Disco hit the 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. Several parodies of the disco style were created, most notably "Disco Duck" and "Dancin' Fool". Rick Dees, at the time a radio DJ in Memphis, Tennessee, recorded "Disco Duck"; Frank Zappa parodied the lifestyles of disco dancers in "Dancin' Fool" on his 1979 Sheik Yerbouti album.

By the late 1970s many major US cities had thriving disco club scenes which were centered around discotheques, nightclubs, and private loft parties where DJs would play disco hits through powerful PA systems for the dancers. 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. 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 properties more exciting. Their programmer/disc jockey, Karen Cook, was the first female disco DJ in the states and trained other McFaddin Ventures discjockeys to work the music format - 6 up, 3 down, to sell more drinks.

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 and break down popular disco dances 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.

There were also disco fashions that discothèque-goers wore for nights out at their local disco, such as flares; 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 suit jackets.

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."

Nowadays, disco fans are more-or-less stereotyped as refusing to accept the end of the 70s. For more information on that respect, see 'Disco stu' from the Simpsons.

Info from wikipedia ,except the last paragraph, which is mine, image from deviantart.


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