Why They Tried to Kill Disco and How it Survived

I love Disco. Let's be honest, you do too. How can you not love that funky bass and electronic feel.

I grew up on Disco compilation CDs, and Bollywood movies that embraced the genre and took it to the next level.

I never understood the hate for disco. I thought it was just one of those cultural things that I couldn't understand — like camping.

Then I read The Politics of Disco, on Film, a preview of a series playing at a theatre in New York that delves into the politics of the genre. Richard Brody suggests that the campaign against Disco had less to do with music, and more to do with "the cultural advances of black people, homosexuals, women, and urban élites which challenged the mainstream presumptions of middle-class white men." Disco emerged from segments of American society that were marginalized and excluded, and the reactionary response reflected an attempt to continue to marginalize and exclude these communities.

Undone, a new podcast by Gimlet, provides a similar perspective, by delving deeper into the 1979 Chicago riot that is said to have killed Disco. But as becomes clear by the end of the episode, Disco did not die that night. It continues to exist and shape the world we live in.

Amy Sanderson07/12/16