July 12th, 2019 marks the 40th Anniversary of infamous Disco Demolition of 1979.
Disco, a dance music with roots springing from rhythm and blues and Latin percussion, evolved from Motown, Soul, Ragtime and Classical music. Yet, disco triggers a variety of novel images signifying a regrettable trend in American culture. Men wearing three-piece polyester suits and striking flamboyant poses draws sneers from people born long after 1978. Disco continues to trigger underserved mockery, rooted in the wake of the Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979. Over one thousand people attended “The Disco Demolition Night” at Comiskey Park on the Southside of Chicago, blowing up thousands of disco records, initiating a riot, and dismantling disco as a popular music and industry.
During the same time, a new club in Chicago’s Southside called The Warehouse, hosted parties exclusively for gay men. Mostly African American gay men danced at The Warehouse. Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan spun records, mixing all kinds of genres together: disco, soul, and even rock music. As disco waned, Knuckles and Levan continued to play disco and started improvising with a drum machine while mixing disco tracks. House music, the name taken from the Warehouse, began to spread through dance clubs from Chicago to Europe. This piece tells the story of the birth of Chicago House Music. Starting as a bittersweet disco theme, the music starts with disco elements such as a minor key, flamboyant strings, heavy bass and a four-four beat. In parallel to historic events, at the climax of the disco section, a musical backlash brews underneath the bittersweet music, clashing tonally and texturally to disco music. The backlash starts small, slowly collecting more voices until all instruments join in destroying disco to imitate the explosion of over 250,000 disco records. As smoke clears showing the destruction, the violins slowly form together, to rebirth disco into a fuller sound reverberating Chicago House. The Demo Demolition Night has been labeled as the night disco died, yet it was in fact the night that disco decided to return to its roots in the underground and be reborn as Chicago House Music.