The Impact Of The Disco Era


Disco music is a type of music that fuses elements from different types of music such as funk, jazz, pop music and salsa with an emphasis on ‘danceability.’ It originated around the mid-1970s partially as a reactionary phenomenon by marginalized communities such as Blacks and Hispanics against the dominance of rock music and the related stigma placed on dance music by mainstream White culture.

The Characteristics of Disco Music

Disco music was noted for its loudness, danceable rhythms and the wild partying and outrageous dressing associated with it. It sprang up from various ethnic communities in New York and Philadelphia. By the late 1970s, a backlash against disco had developed in America and disco performers found it increasingly impossible to secure airtime on radio stations. In 1979 an anti-disco protest was staged in the city of Chicago.

Disco is actually the last popular music spawned by the baby boomers of the 1970s and it became a worldwide phenomenon. The reasons for the backlash against disco music and its accompanying sub culture in the United States are not farfetched. Disco music is associated with the lower or marginalized classes and it is accompanied with loudness, outrageous and expensive dressing, drugs, sex and violence. Though the popularity of disco music waned and was eventually extinguished in the United States, its impact has remained indelible on popular music and culture. Indeed, there have been several mini revivals of disco music in recent times spearheaded by the likes of Madonna, Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake and others.

A lasting Impact on Pop Culture

By the 1970s, the popularity of disco music was so overwhelming that other non-disco artists released some disco tracks or tracks that had heavy disco influences. Many of these tracks cannot be regarded as pure disco but were either pop or rock songs with heavy elements of disco embedded in them. Even non disco songs that had been previously released before the advent of the disco era were remade in disco forms. For example, Perry Como rejigged his 1929 hit track, Temptation.

Virtually no aspect of musical culture escaped the influence of disco during this era. Many television theme songs were heavily influenced by disco. It is right to say that the true essence of disco was its call for an end to racism and the opening of class barriers that keeps people apart. The spirit of disco calls for freedom and expressiveness among the various classes and ethnicities that made up America. The night of anti-disco demonstration in Chicago is generally called the night that disco music died. But did it really die? In actual fact, disco only changed a few things to appear more acceptable. Disco is still alive today!