Disco Fever


Disco, an abbreviation of the French word discothèque, is a musical genre that came from underground dance venues in New York City during the 1970’s. DJs paved the way for the genre by entertaining African Americans, Latinos, and gay dancers. Originally defined as a musical setting, disco evolved into a style involving certain dance steps paired with a specific fashion. Its roots can be found in the mixture of the underground dance venues and gay sensibilities. Disco is a derivation of funk which comes from soul, which essentially stems from African Americans. The disco music scene was controlled by a handful of Black artists affiliated with a small group of specialized record labels like Motown and Philadelphia International Disco. Artists like Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, and Queen quickly rose to fame. The economic success of disco music was in response to its association with male homosexuality and ethnic minorities, and the increase in quality of music. While some, notably British, rock musicians jumped on the economic disco bandwagon, some American rock fans joined efforts in organized attempts to combat disco fever. Many Disco DJs were musicians, poets, or visual artists. The focus of a disco DJ was individual records as opposed to commercial radio or radio programming. Disco DJ’s were known to lengthen songs, for example, extending a 3-minute song to a 16-minute song. The DJ was considered a new type of pop star; playing new instruments such as the twin turn tables and a mixer. DJ’s did not only play famous records, they mixed sequenced and programmed them, creating an innovative way of presenting pre-recorded music in an uninterrupted way. By the mid-1980s, disco music had gone from being ignored to being acknowledged by the mainstream, then being ignored again in favor or rap, funk, and rock music. Discothèques began to be referred to as clubs, which is where the current meaning finds its origins. 

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