Disco: The Gay Club Scene's First Revolution
How well do you know the history behind the music reigning over Studio 54, immortalized in Saturday Night Fever and shaped by progressive minority cultures? Learn the facts behind the funky vibes and groovy tunes from the glamorous disco era and get down with the ultimate disco playlist – combining the best of old and new.
Donna Summer on a summer's night (Photo: Harry Langdon)
Disco emerged on the gay club scene in the early 70s. It was seen as a reaction to dominant rock – similar to how jazz was in protest to discrimination. Speakers and hair got bigger, and outfits and daytimes got smaller.
No scene is without its magicians, and 70s disco had club king Arthur Russell who worked with every hot soul singer of the time, David Byrne and other undefinable artists - and created numerous spin off monikers including Dinosaur. Any disco collector or spinner revels in the delight that some of disco’s best edits are over ten minutes long: an ode to the dramatic, brooding, seductive, body-flinging dance offs that dominated any decent discotheque’s epicenter of action.
Life after death
The glittering silver screen of the 70s is closely tied to the music of the time. Long after its release, the Bee Gees-helmed 1978 Saturday Night Fever movie soundtrack stayed on the charts – till 1980, when the death of disco’s glory era had been widely acknowledged. John Travolta found mega fame status that catapulted him to the dizzying heights of both Grease and Scientology.
It wasn’t long before disco went east. Did you know that India was a huge disco playground? Artists like Nazia Hassan became massive stars, blending in eastern sonic dimensions and soundtracking Bollywood films. Listen to ‘Boom Boom’ by Hassan and create a moodagent.
All that glitters
Like any glamorous, decadent night out, the party has to rest. But born from disco was a lot of techno, electronica, 90s dance and post-millennium club sounds. Whatever the weather, the flavor was simply to keep dancing till you drop.
Disco in the 20s
Lots of 2020’s biggest sounds reignite the love for disco: Dua Lipa with Future Nostalgia, Roisin Murphy with Roisin Machine and Kylie Minogue’s Disco to name a few. Lots remains on the outfits and the sparkle of disco rather than the gorgeously long funk and synth sequences that OG disco gave us, however. You could say Kylie’s ‘Spinning Around’ era is more disco-laden than her latest. Try spinning around to this specially curated playlist in your kitchen; it features everyone from Arthur Rusell and Sylvester to Giorgio Moroder and even Arcade Fire.