Disco Demolition Night: Racist And Homophobic Or Just Rock Fans Having Fun?

By | July 10, 2020

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American disc jockey Steve Dahl (center, holding helmet) poses with members of the crowd during an anti-disco promotion at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, July 12, 1979. (Getty Images)

Many lovers of music will tell you that disco died on July 12, 1979. It was murdered by an overzealous shock jock, a brilliant promoter, and several thousand rabid rock fans on the infield of Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox. While many see the infamous Disco Demolition Night as merely a publicity stunt to poke fun at the rift between two genres of music, others look back at this event and wonder if it was really the music these frothing hordes had a problem with.

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Disco music was popular with the black community in the 1970s. (busboysandpoets.com)

Rock Versus Disco

For decades, rock and roll ruled the airwaves. While it was novel and controversial (and, incidentally, less white) in its early days, by the time the Beatles took over the world, it had become squarely the language of white men. At the same time, black and Latino audiophiles began flocking to the dance clubs of New York City. Unlike the megastars of rock and roll, the artists behind the new sound emerging from these clubs were diverse in race, gender, and everything in between. By the late 1970s, the disco craze had swept the nation. Featured in several wildly popular movies, most notably Saturday Night Fever, disco music was gaining momentum.