"Disco Sucks!" is one of the rallying cries of musically closed minded people everywhere, yesterday and today. This phrase is heard mainly from rednecks, hair metal freaks, bigots, and various other flavors of uptight white people.

In 1978, Chicago's WLUP-FM DJ Steve Dahl got scared that disco was going to knock rock'n'roll right off the airwaves with its popularity. Dahl, being a rock DJ and not much liking disco, didn't want to see this happen. He used airtime during his morning show to popularize the aforementioned phrase, and within a few months the whole country knew it. There were Disco Sucks! T-Shirts, Disco Sucks! bumper stickers, and even a Disco Sucks! album; the meme had gone national in a big way.

Even if it was about the music for Dahl (who once characterized all disco as "the same song with different lyrics"), it wasn't for most of the rest of Disco Sucks! America. To them, it was about fear. Fear that disco, with its beginnings in the inner-city gay and black underground, was going to corrupt their white washed utopia of a country. Fear that their very own children might go out and get down with those vile, demonic black and/or gay people. When it was pointed out to them that they could protest the disco movement with a movement of their very own, they did, and with a vengance.

By 1979, the movement had built up a full head of steam, and Dahl decided it'd be good to do something for all of the Chicagoans who had helped him spread the word. His radio station would throw a full-scale "Disco Sucks!" event (to be called Disco Demolition Night, as the term "suck" was considered a profanity), in between the games of a Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers doubleheader. Listeners were asked to bring their unwanted disco records, to be burnt in a fireworks display. The crowd brought the records, but most of them didn't end up in the display, they ended being thrown all over the field, at players and others. There were riots in the crowd too, and fires. The police had to break it up, and the Sox had to forfeit the second game. Too much ignorance in too little space.

But that was many years ago. People all know better than that now, right? Wrong. I hear the sentiment "Disco Sucks!" in response to electronic dance music at least once a month. There are still people that don't understand (and therefore fear) participatory music. There are still people who fear gays, minorities, and freaks wearing phat pants. In many places -- for instance, Kansas -- it's still a "Disco Sucks!" world.

Sigh. It's like nobody's learned anything over the past twenty-odd years. Everclear has anti-disco lyrics in a song (AM Radio) that came out less than two years ago. Some folks still seem to think that dance music is going to rise up and crush rock. It's utterly insane.

Let me make it perfectly clear for everybody. Different people like different music. This is okay. Some people enjoy dancing to it, and some people like to concentrate and listen. This is also okay. Not everybody looks alike and does the same things in bed. Even this is okay. What is not okay is saying someone "sucks" because they happen to hold a different opinion on one of these matters than yourself. Make sense? Alright then, lets all go enjoy whatever music we happen to like in peace!

Steve Dahl's assault on disco was an attack on the forced belief that "if you aren't into disco, than you aren't cool" and not a racist or homophobic attack. This notion is not only inherently prejudiced and closed minded itself, but historically inaccurate. Never once was a word uttered against blacks, gays, or even just people that liked to dance. It was a cultural backlash against the complete sell out that disco had become and the fact that you were told what to think and how to dance and what to wear. Granted, many racist people that were unaware of Dahl's reasons took it up as a banner for their own agendas.

What was once black dance music had become a homogenized pop culture that did not allow for any other ways of thinking, or for that matter any other types of music to be considered acceptable. The same as happened to blues when it was dubbed "rock n roll" by Alan Freed and done by white people like Elvis Presley. Only then did it start to reach the mainsteam and become a watered down version of what it once was. Sadly this is what it took for the conservative elements of our society to not consider it "black pot smoking" music.

It was not only "white people" that considered this new arrogant society offensive, it was anyone that was snubbed for either not having enough money to buy a white three piece suit and a gold belt buckle or wanting to do cocaine and dance all night long. Granted, that is somewhat of a stereotype itself but has a basis in reality in this instance.

Steve Dahl's group The Insane Coho Lips were fighting against things like Margret Trudeau on the cover of People Magazine and ten billion Donna Summer interviews telling us that we were no longer "cool" because we didn't listen to or like disco.

As far as Steve Dahl's personal reasons, they were many and varied, mostly starting with the fact that he was told that his station at the time (WDAI 94.7) was soon to be "Disco DAI" and that he would be forced to play a certain amount of disco records an hour. He wasn't "scared" of disco winning the ratings as his show was mostly a talk format (Steve Dahl is the originator of what is now wrongly called "shock radio" and credited to Howard Stern.) He then quit the station, realizing that this was to be a fad and a short lived one at that, and went to The Loop WLUP FM 98. It was there that he started The Insane Coho Lips and had a number of smaller events at local clubs that culminated in "Disco Demolition Night" at Comisky Park. There was never any real violent attacks on gays or blacks, just 70's stoners venting, sometimes a bit out of control, but never anti-gay or anti-black.

When Disco Demolition Night happened it was then called a "riot", but was really nothing more than an uncontrolled crowd, as no one was fighting, only running around on the field and ripping up sod, lighting bonfires on the piles of disco records that had already been blown up, and various other 70's party mentality that was not exclusive to this event. The World Series one year before had similar activites.

So to say that "Disco Sucks" was racist is not only wrong, it is out of context and historically innacurate. To this day people have been reading much more into "Disco Sucks" than what was originally intended as a giant FUCK YOU to this supposed upper echelon telling us what we should be. Obviously many people have not gotten over Disco Sucks, and that is amazing after 23 years.

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