Disco began in urban areas, especially the New York City area, in the early 1970s. Disco is credited with having formally started in 1973, although Manu Dibango’s ‘Soul Makossa’ in 1972 is considered a disco.
The whole disco sound is a fusion of Latin beats, Caribbean instruments, soul singing and European melodies. This sound was further driven by the addition of synthesized beats.
Connections to alternative cultures
Disco music was seen at the beginning of the day as part of a counterpoint to rock music. Rock music is seen as dominated by white men in the late 60’s and early 70’s, with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin as some of the few exceptions. Meanwhile, disco divas were African-American women like Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor.
The LGBT scene in New York City was also part of the disco era, where gay men play an important role in the rise along with the general rise in sexual liberation. This group tended to be discos as part of the underground scene.
Giorgio Moroder was one of the main forces behind the disco sound. He often collaborated with Donna Summer — the 1974 track ‘Love to Love You Baby’ is considered to be enormously influential on the disco sound.
Other well-known acts include Chic, KC and Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor and Bee Gees.
The 1977 film ‘Saturday Night Fever’, starring John Travolta, was the turning point in disco history. Not only did John Travolta make a star, it also took disco to a much larger audience than the clubs in urban areas and into every cinema in the country. This popularity also stimulated the rapid development and release of new disco artists, who watered down and overpopulated the genre.
The sudden rush of disco popularity after ‘Saturday Night Fever’ was truly the zenith of the genre. Disco Demolition Night in Chicago was the only seminal event that really marked the beginning of the end when a close riot ensued in Comiskey Park between games in a dual speaker when the popularity of watching unwanted disco items exploded overwhelmingly the stadium capacity of the stadium. Within a year of Disco Demolition Night, disco was no longer at the top of the charts. Disco was at one time a ubiquitous form of pop music. It topped maps and sold albums at a fantastic pace. Whether you loved disco, hated it or did everything you could to try to ignore it, disco was massively popular.