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Disco is Not Dead

Knial Piper

Posted on November 29, 2018 17:36

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How EDM resurrected Disco

In early 1940s France, Parisian society started to use the term “discotheque” to describe their youth-filled clubs. The term described night clubs where the owners opted out of live bands for disc jockeys or “DJs”.  

The practice spread to West Germany, then to the UK, and on to the United States. In September 1964, Playboy magazine used the term “disco” to describe the phenomenon. By the mid-1970s, the U.S. was synonymous with Disco music. The Jackson 5, Donna Summer, and Bee Gees are just a few of the names that contributed to the genre.  

Disco flourished because it was a way for young Americans to deal with the aftermath of The Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. Economic prosperity was declining; unemployment, inflation and crime rates were increasing; the hippie subculture had disappeared. Roger Ebert remarked that the embrace of Disco’s exuberant dance moves became an escape from “the general depression and drabness of the political and musical atmosphere of the late seventies.”  

In 1979 a dislike for Disco emerged from an anti-establishment sentiment that called artists like Rod Stewart and David Bowie “sellouts” for their musical sympathies with Disco. “Disco Sucks” became a common phrase by the emerging punk subculture. Due to burn out there was a rise in homophobia, racism, and anti-feminism.

July 12, 1979 became “the day disco died,” because a group of anti-Disco protesters formulated ”Disco Demolition Night.” The protesters literally blew up a pile of disco records during a White Sox doubleheader. Damage to the field caused the White Sox to forfeit the second game to the Detroit Tigers.

Chicago may have been Disco’s burial ground, but it also was responsible for its resurrection. In the 1980s Chicago House Music carried the torch to artists like Kraftwerk. In Detroit, artists like Derrick May and Juan Atkins melded types of Chicago House with Funk and Electro. They continued the DJ’s repetitive instrumentals and drugs, mixed with tempos that made you dance.

With the birth of the technology age came the addition of electronic sounds. The music bled into other genres, forming many limbs of the Techno tree.

The sound spread back to Europe where the Germans called it Tekkno. In the United States the term EDM (electronic dance music) became a standard for artists of the early 2010s. Two wars, 9/11, and the 2008 market crash gave the youth many reasons to desire the escape of dance. Skrillex, David Guetta, Kygo, and Deadmau5 emerged.

The music industry modernized the movement for radio play by artists like Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, and Bruno Mars. The feel good times of the Obama Age provided happier tunes than those that had been previously seen in Disco. These artists mixed Techno and Pop-feel good attitudes with foot tapping, dance floor grooves. Whatever becomes of the music in the Trump Age, we can be sure of one thing; “Disco is not dead.”

Knial Piper

Posted on November 29, 2018 17:36

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