Jeff has been visiting this weekend, which means the conversation level in our house gets more surreal than normal. (This is no bad thing.)
We were having a discussion about a great list of songs by band which were mostly one-hit wonders, and I was saying how I had kibitzed over the inclusion of the Pet Shop Boys, who had numerous top-20 singles in the 80s, and were even bigger in Europe.
Me: And of course, they were pioneers of gay disco, and that’s no small thing.
Larissa: I didn’t even know there was such a think as gay disco.
Me: Oh yes.
Larissa: Apparently, I’ve been hanging out with the wrong people.
Me: You obviously haven’t been hanging out with gay people at discos.
Larissa: I like gay people. It’s the disco I object to.
Jeff: How do you know a disco is gay, anyway?
Me: Easy. It makes passes at other discos.
Larissa: So what does a straight disco make passes at?
Me: (shrugs) A laundromat?
The phrase “closet disco” is now wandering through my brain. I’ll be happier once it has finished its visit and departed. 🙂
Closet disco? Is that where the crewmembers of a pocket battleship would go on liberty?
From the “More Than You Ever Wanted to Know” Dept.
Europe also didn’t experience the backlash against disco that happened in America around 1980. Disco kept on in Europe, but it transformed into something along the lines of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”--the orchestral strings went away and were replaced by a stripped-down, minimalist sound that featured drum machines and synths. The influences shifted from early-70s funk and jazz, to early electronic artists like Kraftwerk, Devo, and Tangerine Dream.
Look for “italo disco” on Youtube, if you want to see/hear some examples. It was called “Italo” because most of the record labels that were producing it were located in Italy. Most of the genre never crossed the Atlantic, but some artists had hits in the U.S. with reworked cover versions. One notable example is Laura Branigan’s “Self Control”, which was originally a hit in Europe for Italo artist RAF.
Italo disco eventually came to the United States in the form of its heavy influence on 1980s synthpop, which many Americans erroneously refer to as, or lump in with, “New Wave.” Part of that invasion, of course, was Pet Shop Boys. And of course, there was a lot of the music that was featured on MTV in MTV’s early days.
As dance music goes, it’s what dance music should be--catchy, and composed of 100% cheese. 🙂 I’m told it’s undergoing a revival of sorts, along with many other trends from the 1980s. It’s not surprising. It’s all there--the clothes, the hair, the fat-sounding analog synths.
(I have an entire canned rant about how the backlash against disco in the U.S. was the product of racism and homophobia, but this isn’t the space for it.)
Re: From the “More Than You Ever Wanted to Know” Dept.
Baltimora. And the Listerine bottle swinging through the trees.
When you do find the space for it, I’d love to read it. I don’t mind if you post it here, either.
It’s on Danny the Street?
(from Grant Morrison’s run of writing Doom Patrol; thanx to Ben-san Arizona for reference)