The title of this post – taken from one of my favorite satiric films Mystery Men, is actually how many people felt at the start of the ’80s, when disco, the dance trend that had taken over the previous decade, was declared dead. The idea of a discotheque was not unique to America or to the Seventies, actually created in 1940’s occupied France as a secret rebellion against the Nazis. The idea of having a place to go that was solely about the freedom of dancing was something that every culture, gender, and sexual orientation could relate to.
In 1969, the cultural center of America was undoubtedly New York City and it was during this time that feminism, gay rights, civil rights, and the sexual revolution were all coming to fruition. Confused and struggling youths needed a place to go where they would be accepted and free to be themselves without discomfit – enter the disco. The look was all glitter, sparkles, and effervescent flamboyance. Musicians soon caught onto the growing trend and began creating synthesized, carefree music to match the movement.
Sly & The Family Stone, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, and KC & The Sunshine Band were just a few of the artists to latch onto the disco wave and by the mid-70’s, the trend was hugely popular. Then in 1977, the pop culture movement was solidified and monumentalized in the film Saturday Night Fever, with a killer soundtrack by the Bee Gees. Starring the enigmatic John Travolta as Tony Manero – stock boy by day, wildly talented disco-er by night – the film was a massive hit and has maintained cult status for over 40 years.
Also in 1977, Studio 54 came onto the scene creating an exclusive aura to disco with its famous faces. Every popular celebrity and icon hit up Studio 54 at one point or another, desiring the same carefree feeling that attracted everyone else. Yet, like anything else, disco was not something that could last forever. By the early ’80s, Studio 54 had become bankrupt, pop musicians were veering into other styles, and the attitude of the world was decidedly less carefree than it had been in decades prior. Disco lovers were left with their memories of wild nights and, yes, their polyester suits.