Say the word Disco and you immediately think about dancing, glitter, fashion and the late- ‘60s. Disco is known as an exclusive American movement. It developed out of late-’60s Motown, which at the time featured four-on-the-floor rhythms, lavish string production, indelible vocal hooks, touches of gospel music, and deep bass lines.
The disco scene we know today started developing by the early 1970s. At the time, the disco scene was seen partly as a reaction to the hippie period of the ‘60s. The Vietnam War dragged on, and race riots roared across the country, driven by a backlash to the Civil Rights Movement and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. The country, and especially inner-city minority and immigrant communities, felt disillusioned and depressed, as inflation, unemployment and gangs further ravaged the nation.
Disco provided an escape, and the earliest discotheques provided a sanctuary. David Mancuso’s Loft parties are recognized as some of the earliest disco events. They gave the highly vulnerable queer community a rare, welcoming place to be free and express themselves away from the watchful eyes of the police, who would often harass and arrest them at more visible gay bars and clubs. Legendary sound system designer and engineer Alex Rosner, who invented and built the first DJ mixer, described the Loft parties this way: “There was a mix of sexual orientation, there was a mix of races, mix of economic groups. A real mix, where the common denominator was music.”
Disco didn’t die, of course. In America, it went back underground, becoming house music in the hands of Chicago DJs like Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles at clubs like the Music Box and The Warehouse.
But the sound that America tried to bury also found followers around the world — even in places one might least expect. Most prominently, there’s Italo disco, the spacey, synth-driven sound influenced by Giorgio Moroder in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. But bottles of ink have already been spilled on that sub-genre, while the disco-infused sounds of countries like Suriname, Nigeria, Bulgaria, and Indonesia have often gone overlooked. Here, we’ll dig into sounds from those and other countries, before looking at the latest rise of disco taking place across Europe and the globe.
Right now, almost 40 years later, Starguardz is here. We are an international disco dance initiative that brings people together online with reinvented and reworked disco. Our mission is to always be energising, social and positive. We want to guard the stars from the past by passing it through, to generations to come by lightning up dance floors all over the world.