Yep. I was on of ’em. One of those well made-up, Candies spike-heeled, Danskin leotard and skirt wearing, glitter sparkled, dance ’til the club closed, disco dolls. Make fun all you want…it was a ball!
The mid to late ’70’s was kind of a unique time. We’d just come out of the don’t-trust-the-establishment, nobody’s-going-to-bathe-or-shave ’60’s with all the war and turmoil and learning to be ourselves and follow our dreams. Since the pendulum swings both ways, where else would you expect it to swing than from sandals and no shaved parts, to spiked heels and dressed to the nines to boogie oogie oogie all night long?
The Detroit area was flush with dance clubs. And like the club kids of NYC, Detroit had its own. They were wild, impetuous, fabulously dressed, and oh man, they could dance. You would see them no matter which club you were in.
The one carryover from the 60’s to the 70’s was the drug use. Heroin and Haight-Ashbury morphed into the drug of choice in the clubs: cocaine. It was a bit unnerving to see all the pretty things bent over the counters in the bathrooms snorting line after line. I saw a great deterrent one night, when a doll took to the dance floor obviously whacked out of her mind and dancing to the beat of many different drummers. Ironic that the song she chose for her dance improvisation was “Shame” by Evelyn Champagne King.
- Listen to Evelyn Champagne King’s “Shame” here: 01 Shame
The Disco Daze were somewhat surreal. It was lights and sparkle and loud. It was sexy and colorful and over the top. It was Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real,” Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel,” Rose Royce’s “Car Wash.’ It was music that made you move, made you forget everything but the sights, the sounds, and the moment.
- Listen to Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real” here: 11 Got To Be Real 1
- Listen to Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel” here: 01 You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
- Listen to Rose Royce’s “Car Wash” here: 08 Car Wash (Single Version)
Even though the subject of many of the songs dealt with love, or loss of love, or straight out sex, disco wasn’t thought provoking or deep. It took a lot of heat for the format and the music. The songs would never make it into any type of musical hall of fame. But it was fun. As the phrase goes, it had a great beat and you could dance to it. All you had to do was look at the mad dash to the dance floor when The Emotions, “Best of My Love” or Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” or Musique’s risqué “In The Bush” hit the turntable.
- Listen to The Emotions “Best of My Love” here: 01 Best of My Love
- Listen to Hot Chocolates “You Sexy Thing” here: 02 You Sexy Thing
- Listen to Musique’s “In The Bush” here: 10 In the Bush (Radio Edit)
Disco was a genre than had never been before and will more than likely never be seen again. The striking thing is that for all the grief heaped on it, many, many, many of the songs are still played and available for purchase. Although the artists did not achieve the type of cultural super-stardom that many bands and singers acquire, there are still the Grande Dame’s of the genre that trigger memories tied to the music.
The glitter, the clothes and the discos may have disappeared, and we have aged out of that moment in time, but the thrill of dancing unrestrained to the throbbing beat of the music is freedom we had not known before. It was a freedom that until the “Last Dance” was called and the doors were shut forever, we embraced with abandon.
- Listen to Grande Dame of the Disco Daze, Donna Summers “Last Dance” here: 04 Last Dance (Single Version)
What’s your Disco Daze story?
All music featured here can be downloaded from iTunes by clicking the links below:
- Evelyn Champagne King, “Shame”
- Cheryl Lynn, “Got To Be Real”
- Sylvester, “You Make Me Feel”
- Rose Royce, “Car Wash”
- The Emotions, “Best of My Love”
- Hot Chocolate, “You Sexy Thing”
- Musique, “In The Bush”
- Donna Summers, “Last Dance”