By the 1960's a new dance fad had started named the "Twist" and the Peppermint Lounge in NYC was to become
famous, this started many night clubs dropping the
bands and hiring a Disc-Jockey. Playboy had started a sexual revolution which was not yet realized and the 'Pill' was gaining momentum. Many of these clubs would follow the whiskey and Peppermint Lounge with some adding a touch of burlesque such as the topless Batman-A-Go-Go in Los Angeles whose dancers would dance in golden cages. Others would have male and/or female erotic dancers dancing on pedestal stages, in cages etc., sometimes scantly clothed, sometimes not. One of the original and popular Los Angeles DJ's of the time was Kenny Wetzel who talked the owner of the Staircase nightclub in Downey, California to hire him as a DJ, He became a major success till he retired in 1998.
In the late 1960's, the disco dance craze was not really apparent yet. Some Cuban dancers in Florida where dancing a form of salsa and swing to the experimental disco sounds in the late 1960's. About 1968 a new type of electronic music (synthesizers) was making an impact and a new experimental music was being born. The Cubans and the new music formed to create disco music ... a kind of hard hitting, thumping continuous beat that could be mixed from one song to another without stopping the music. By 1970, these couples would start doing what was finally tagged as 'Disco Swing', the public would later become confused and call it "the Hustle" (Van McCoy), which was actually a line dance, however the name stuck for the better. The discos were now getting high tech and the money was being invested in fancier nightclubs. The sexually free public was now comfortable with being a Playboy/girl as well the 'Pill' being a normal thing and was ready to let loose.
In walks Van McCoy with his song "The Hustle" which was released in 1975, and many radio listeners were now wondering what this "Hustle dance was, (see The Hustle) as most folks have never stepped into a modern disco, well they were going to find out. Now here comes Donna Summer's new erotic sounding music ("Love to Love You baby") and her sultry, sexy look didn't hurt either which made the popularity of Disco become world wide. Young, sexually free people were stepping out again dancing with a partner(s), doing the social mixers called line dances (Lines were from the old folk dances), however, people wanted to touch each other in a big way and tired of the freestyle dances of the 60's found that this new 'touch dancing' fit the bill.
By the mid 1970's the disco scene was in full force with many Disco's opening and closing in almost every city and town overnight. The most infamous Disco was Studio 54, an exuberant, sophisticated and sexually wild nightclub in New York City and later "Chippendales," with their male exotic dancers performing for ladies only till 10pm when the guys would be let in. In 1978 John Travolta and the movie "Saturday Night Fever" along with a few others would make the dance scene literally EXPLODE!. Everyone now was aware of the disco scene... and partner dancing. During this craze many forms of the Hustle came to be such as the "Rope Hustle, Sling Hustle, Tango Hustle, West Coast Hustle, Street Hustle and of course the Latin Hustles. These dances were offshoot's of their namesake originals. By 1978, Disco had reached its peak with all of New York declaring a "National Disco Week" in June of 1978 and London sponsors held the World Disco Dance Championships in the summer of 1978 as well. The word disco now had a new meaning... Dance!
Television would also jump on the band wagon with such shows as Dance Fever (right), the Gong Show, Soul Train and Star Search (above), Top of the Pops,Solid Gold and various Latin TV programs etc. and the public could now stay home and watch the dancers 'Trip The Light Fantastic' but would get the wrong impression as they would only see the competitive side of the dance rather than the social side. Newspapers such as the Los Angeles times would feature dancers such as Roy Madrid hailing him NUMEROUS times as the new Fred Astaire on the "Front Page" no less. (Roy was also the uncredited assistant choreographer to Denny Terrio on Saturday Night Fever for the touch dancing scenes, Denny only did the freestyle).
As time went on the Public would become truly saturated and a new term would emerge ... "Disco Sucks' would become a common mantra with the non dancing public. Unfortunately, The mass infiltration of disco upon the public left many club owners not making ends meet and the nightclubs would eventually close, with some almost as quickly as they opened. The dances got a little too difficult as well (Lifts/tricks) due to the many competitions on T.V. and eventually becoming to competitive, difficult and fantastic for the average Joe to walk in and do, all this was to make a splendid entrance for the next explosion ...
'Urban Cowboy' would give the death blow to disco dancing. "Urban Cowboy" hit the scene in 1980 which gave the appearance as being rowdy rather than sexual (it was both) and seemed to promise a simpler, kinder, softer and more wholesome, girl/guy next door singles scene. The simpler "Texas Two-Step" would make it easy for the non dancers to become involved and was to become 'King of the dances' for the non-dancing public throughout the eighties. Many of the disco dancers switched to this new scene and with them came some of the dances, only disguised as Country Western (rodeo swing, bus stop etc). However, country followed the Hustle dilemma and became too
competitive as well as the Line dance explosion in the 1990's (achy-breaky-heart) giving it an instant boost, then eventually giving Country (the Two-Step) its final blow as King of the hill.
None-the-less, disco as a music, as a dance or as a club has not died out completely, and probably never will, it has just transformed with the times. It fits any society's pocketbook and a society's want for the many varied artist's songs which are made available by the DJ's, unlike the bands who usually don't know any other style of music except what they play, and as well as Bands charging extremely high fees to play a nightclub are easily replaced by a DJ. The dances, mainly the couples dance today known as the Hustle, is still being danced by a handful of people, mainly in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Philly and Los Angeles. The main disco dance styles today are the faster and more energetic L.A. Hustle, the simpler Street or Sling Hustle, and the slower, smoother New York Hustle.