Disco is a popular music style that rose to prominence in the 1970s, particularly within minority and gay culture. Adored by some, and utterly hated by others, it prompted the opening of nightclubs all over the world, but it was also the subject of ritual burnings and protests by people tired of its repetitive beats. No matter what side of the fence music fans are on regarding disco's appeal, it is certain that the music, the lifestyle it created and the fashion it started are some of the most prevailing images of 1970s Americana remaining to this day.
Music historians disagree about disco's official origins, but there are some widely accepted beliefs. For example, it is generally accepted that disco songs were first released in 1973. The following year, the first disco radio show hit the airwaves of New York City. Disco really bounded its way into the home of millions with the hit 1977 film "Saturday Night Fever" starring Jon Travolta. The music soundtrack featured disco music legends like the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band and Kool & the Gang. The soundtrack quickly became as popular if not more so than the film itself.
Disco is a symbol of the 1970s, but its popularity overflowed into the early 1980s and is still enjoyed by millions of music fans today. July 12, 1979, has been considered by music historians as "the day disco died." This was the night of what has been referred to as "Disco Demolition Night," when anti-disco music lovers destroyed disco records as a symbol to the music industry to stop overmarketing and producing the genre.
Disco music is best known for inspiring fans to dance. Because of this, the music is often repetitive. The influences for the music include jazz, soul and funk. Electronic musical instruments and equipment were favored over acoustic ones. Most disco music of the late 1970s features extensive use of synthesizers, keyboards and electronic drums. The lyrics are often frivolous, usually encouraging listeners to move their body in a certain way.
Disco was such a pervasive genre that it led many famous rock and roll bands of the time to experiment with the music style. Artists like the Rolling Stones, Kiss and Rod Stewart have been both lauded and criticized for their use of disco styling in some of their most popular hits. Disco helped many artists like Donna Summer, the Bee Gees and Gloria Gaynor achieve mainstream success as well as relevance in music history.
While it is arguable that disco music has made as many enemies as it has fans, it is impossible to deny its effect on mainstream culture in America and all across the globe. The leisure suits, afros, platform shoes and light-up dance floors are signs of the time. Because of this, disco will always hold a place in music and popular culture history.
Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including USAToday.com. Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.