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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Disco
Disco History  origins archives dancers
Disco History Origin Archive title     Disco, such a common word today, but its origins actually started in the Big Band era with the radio DJ's (disc-jockey). The Disc-Jockey would be the one who made the announcements and played the 33 1/2 LP and 45 rpm records (a flat 6" or 12" Disc with recorded music). The DJ's would eventually have their own TV, Radio and Movie shows such as DJ's - 'Dick Clark and Allan Freed'.

    This was to eventually get the "DJ's" into the nightclubs and start the disco trend (using records/discs rather than live bands). It was much cheaper for the club owners than hiring the bands and the music was much more varied and up-to-date. The first Disco club was the Peppermint Lounge in Paris France which opened in the 1950's. This would open the door to other establishments over time. The first Disco in the USA was the "Whiskey-A-Go-Go" on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood (now named The Whiskey).

     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.

... See Hustle Dance page for additional info.

Birth Place

Creation Date

Creator

Dance Type

Paris, France 1950's Peppermint Lounge (France) Couples / Fad / Solo / Line / Disco
      -
 

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Other (Fun Disco Stuff)

54 (Studio fifty-four) n/a $ (18") Disco Ball Necklace
A Night at the Roxbury   $ (4") Rotating Disco Ball Light
The Brides of Frankenstein   $ (6")Rotating Disco Ball Light
Can't Stop The Music    
Dancin'    
Disco Dancin' (A Taste of Honey)    
Disco Fever    
Farrah Fawcett - (Red Bathing suit poster) (1976)    
Flash Dance    
Gong Show    
Hullabaloo    
Saturday Night Fever (1977)    
Staying Alive (1983)    
     

Video Clip pop Ups

1950's - 1960's Music Titles

Video Clip pop Ups

1970s + Music Titles

Video Clip pop Ups

1970s + Music Titles

Video Cip Pop Up Window
How High The Moon - Ella Fitzgerald Video Cip Pop Up Window Ain't Gonna Bump No More - Joe Tex Video Cip Pop Up Window I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor [MP3]
Video Cip Pop Up Window Twist, the - Chubby Checker Video Cip Pop Up Window Bad Girls / Hot Stuff Medey - Donna Summer [MP3] Video Cip Pop Up Window If I Can't Have You - Yvonne Ellimen
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Dance, Dance, Dance, - Chic (The Bump) Video Cip Pop Up Window Inside Out - Odyssey
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Disco Inferno - Trammps Video Cip is not available atm Lady Marmalade [MP3]
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Disco Lady - Johnny Taylor (1976) Video Cip Pop Up Window More Than A Women - Bee Gees
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Everybody Dance - Chic Video Cip Pop Up Window Nasty Girl - Vanity 6
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Forget Me Nots - Patrice Rushen Video Cip Pop Up Window Papa Was a Rolling Stone - Temptations (Stroll)
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Give Me Love - Cerrone Video Cip is not available atm Super Freak!
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Gloria - Laura Branigan Video Cip is not available atm  
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Hustle, the - Van McCoy [MP3] Video Clip pop Ups

Loves Themes

Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Love at First Bite [MP3] Video Cip is not available atm Love to Love You Baby [MP3]
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip Pop Up Window Love to Love You Baby Donna Summer (1975) Video Cip is not available atm Mac Arthur Park
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip is not available atm Never Can Say Good-bye
Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip is not available atm   Video Cip is not available atm Spanish Hustle [MP3]
 

Some Night Clubs

Locations

2001 New York, New York (N.Y) 1977 All States and countries had discos
Batman A-Go-Go (Topless) L.A. Paradise Garage (N.Y) 1976 (Clip) Fisher Hall - 1975 NYC - (Van McCoy)
Chippendale's (L.A.)  Peppermint Lounge (Fr. & N.Y.) Los Angeles
Circus Disco (L.A.) Roseland Ballroom New Jersey
Club 747 (Buffalo, NY) 1975 Sanctuary, the (1973) New York
Copa - Cabana Star Palace Philadelphia
Dillions (L.A.) 1976 Studio 1 (L.A.) 1974 San Francisco
Faces Discotheque Studio 54 (N.Y) 1977 (Clip) Seattle Washington
The Funhouse Sugar Shack (18 and Up) North Hollywood, Ca.
Galaxy (Chicago) Trocadero, The
Gazary's (L.A.) Uncle Sam's
Ice Palace (NY) 1975 Warehouse (Miami)
Ipanema (NY) 1975 Whiskey-A-Go-Go (L.A.)
Le Jardin (N.Y) 1974 Xenon
DCA (Phily) 1975 Zoo, The (1973)
Loft, the  
 
Video Clip pop Ups

Stage

Theaters

Television

Video Cip is not available atm 1978 - Disco Fever Minskoff Theatre (1979) 1957 - American Bandstand (1957)
Video Cip is not available atm 1979 - Got to go Disco The Minskoff Theatre (2000) 1965 - Hullabaloo (1965)
Video Cip is not available atm 2000 - Saturday Night Fever  The Roxy 1971 - Soul Train (1971)
Video Cip is not available atm         1972 - Disco (1972)
Video Clip pop Ups

Dance Groups

      1973 - Midnight Special (1973) 
Video Cip is not available atm Beat Girls (aka Leg's and Co.)       1976 - Disco Step by Step (1976)
Video Cip is not available atm Dance Dimensions       1977 - Disco 77 (1977)
Video Cip is not available atm Denny Terio dancers (Dance Fever)       1979 - Dance Fever (1979) 
Video Cip is not available atm Disco Fantasy       1980 - Donna Summer Special (1980)
Video Cip is not available atm Don Kirschners Dancer (dance Dimensions)       1981 - Solid Gold
Video Cip Pop Up Window Pans People (aka Leg's and Co.)       1983 - Star Search (1983)
Video Cip Pop Up Window Solid Gold Dancers       1998 - '70s Celebration: The Beat is Back 
Video Cip is not available atm Zoo (aka Leg's and Co.)       1999 - Disco Beaver from Outer Space Disco Masters
Video Cip is not available atm         Gong Show (80's)
 

Other / Misc.

Magazine Publications information

Studio 54 owners: Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager 1961 - Discoteca Magazine
  5/22/1964 - Life Magazine
  5/27/1966 - Life Magazine
- 11/1976 - After Dark Magazine
  1977 - Billboards Disco Forum
  9/1977 - After Dark Magazine
  1978 - S.N.F. authorized scrapbook
  7/1978 - Penthouse (D. Summer)
  11/1978 - Life Magazine
  1979 - Dynamite Magazine
  6/26/1979 - Circus Magazine
  10/1983 - Stallion magazine
  Billboard Magazines
  Down Beat Magazines
  Variety Magazine
   
 

Magazine Subscriptions

  n/a
 

Related Films

Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1965 - Beach Blanket Bingo [DVD] Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1979 - Mickey Mouse Disco Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1991 - Disco Years, The
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1972 - Gidget Gets Married Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1979 - Vamos Cantar Disco Baby Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1991 - VH1: presents Donna Summer [DVD]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1976 - Car Wash [DVD]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1980 - Can't Stop The Music Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1996 - "VH1 Presents the 70's"
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1976 - Disco 9000 Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1980 - Discoteca del amor, La Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1998 - 54 [DVD]
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1977 - Pelvis
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1980 - Fame [DVD] Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1998 - Disco Inferno [DVD]
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1978 - Disco Delirio
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1980 - Foxes [DVD] Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1998 - The Last Days of Disco [DVD]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1978 - Sat. Night Fever [DVD]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1981 - Melvin Goes Disco 2gk0glCTckc Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1999 - That's the Way I Like It
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1978 - Thank God It's Friday [DVD] Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1982 - Disco Dancer Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 2002 - Hae-jeok, discowang doe
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1979 - Brillantina Rock Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1983 - Discoteca, La Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. Friday's Disco
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1979 - Disco Fieber Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1983 - Rainbow Colored Disco Dancer Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. VH1 - presents American Bandstand
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1979 - Disco Godfather [DVD] Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1983 - Stayin' Alive [DVD]    
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1979 - Los Exitos del Amore Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1987 - Discopríbeh   Sonny's Beg/Int Hustle Instructional [DVD]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1979 - Love at First Bite Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. an Extremely Goofy movie (Disney)    

Other Related Dances of the time ... 1960s

Bird Creep Jerk Mule Surf
Bossa Nova Fly Jive / East Coast Pachanga Swim
Bostella Freddy Madison Pony Twist
Boston Frug Mambo / Cha Cha Shimmy Watusi
Bug Ginza Mashed Potato Ska West Coast Swing
Buzzard Hitch Hiker Monkey Slop  
    Mouse    
 

Other Related Dances of the time ... 1970s

Bay Area Hustle Continental Hustle Line Dances Rope Hustle Texas Two-Step
Break Dance Disco Duck (r.dees) New Yorker / N.Y Hustle Sling Hustle The Hustle
Bump, the Do The Spin Pago-Pago Street Hustle West Coast Swing
Bus Stop L.A. Lock (Pop & Lock) Robot Tango Hustle West Coast Hustle
--

Dancers, Choreographers etc.

DJ's

Artie Phillips Floyd Chisolm Nellie Cotto Bobby Viteritti
Billy Fajardo John Travolta Nelson Melendez David Mancuso
Buddy Schwimmer (LA) Karen Lustgarden Roy Madrid (LA) Jim Burgess
Chick Vennera Kenny Gonzalez Sandra Muldanado (sp?) John Benitez
Debbie Rosado Lisa Nunziella Tony Lee John Ceglia
Denny Terrio (LA) Lordes Jones Willie & Adrian Rosario John Luongo
Diane Ardone Lynn Vogen (LA)     Kenny Wetzel (LA)
"Disco" Dave Sarul (LA) Maria Torres     Larry Levan (Paradise Garage)
Eddy Vega Nancy Beth-Orr (LA)     Michelangelo (Sugar Shack)
        Robbie Leslie
 

Books on Disco dance ...

Title

Author

Date

Publisher

$ Basics of Disco Dancing Morton, Pamela 1982 American Press
$ Complete Guide to Disco Dancing Lustgarten, Karen 1978 Warner Books
$ Dancing Disco Deats, Randy 1979 William Morrow &
$ Disco Goldman, Albert 1978 E P Dutton
$ Disco Morgan, Roberta n/a Bell Pub. Co.;
Disco Dance Steps Villari, Jack & Kathleen 1978 Domus
Disco Dancing Tonite Blackford, Andy 1979 Octopus Books, Ltd.
$ Disco Divas: Women, Gender 1970s Inness, Sherrie A. 2003 University of PA. Press
Disco Fever Hanson, Kitty 1978 New American Library, Inc.
$ Discotheque Romeo, Felix 2001 Anagrama
Discothéque Dances Blake, Dick 1965 The World Co.
Dance Fever McDonagh, Don 1979 Random House, Inc.
Disco Hustle Lovisone, Carter n/a Sterlingn Pub. Co.
$ Disco to Tango and Back Blair, Skippy 1978 n/a
$ Disco with Donny & Marie Heaton, Alma 1979 Osmond Pub. Co.
$ Donna Summer - Her Life and Music Howard, Josiah n/a Tiny Ripple Books
$ Hot Stuff: A Brief History of Disco Andriote, John-Manuel 2001 HarperEntertainment
Hullabaloo Discotheque Dance Book n/a 1967 Scholastic Book Services
$ Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979 Tim Lawrence
2004 Duke Univ Pr
$ My Life and the Paradise Garage: Cheren, Mel 2000 24 Hours For Life
$ Night dancin'
Miezitis, Vita n/a Ballantine Books
$ Official Guide to Disco Dance steps Villari , Jack n/a Domus Books
$ Paradise Garage Estok, Michael 1987 Goose Lane
$ Saturday Night Fever Newman, Michael n/a FLIKS Pub
$ Saturday Night Forever: Story of Disco Jones, Alan 2000 A Cappella Books
$ Studio 54: The Legend Guest, Anthony Haden 1997 te Neues Pub. Co.
$ The Last Party: Studio 54 ... Guest, Anthony Haden 1997 William Morrow

1970s Groups, etc.

1960s Groups, etc

1970s Singers

1960s Singers

Bee Gee's Beach Boys Barry White Elvis Presley
Commodores Beatles Jean-Marc Cerrone Mama Cass
Fleetwood Mac Dion Chaka Kahn Fabian
James Brown Jan and Dean Donna Summer Frankie Avalon
Steve Miller Band Rolling Stones Gloria Gaynor James Darren
The Trammps     Patty LaBelle    
Village People     Stevie Wonder    
        Van McCoy    

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

BillBoard Discomania DJ (Disc Jockey) 8 Track Tapes
Calvin Klein / Halston Discotheque Skating (Roller Disco) Salsoul Records
Motown     Wrap Dress
       
       
       

Other...