General History of Disco

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.

Many other forms of music began to originate from disco music; club, house, and hip-hop music. These three music began to make a presence on the music scene, especially the dance scene. This continued the history of music and dance integration that can be traced to the 1920s with the emergence of the Charleston.

Unlike other music forms like rock and pop music, disco and post-disco focused on the production process rather than the aspects of musicianship in performance. The importance of the roles of producers, recording engineers, and DJs exemplified this. Also, the central performers in disco and post-disco music were the dancers and the DJ, not the singers and musicians. The disco environment included things like large sound systems, twin turntables, a mixer, vinyl records in the DJ booth, and the human body as the main “instrument” on the dance floor, allowing the music to be as physical as it was audible.


Authors: Mya Gibbs, Amethyst Rorie, and Alexandria Evers


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