At the end of the decade, most people looked back on disco as commercialized and pop-obsessed, rather than considering the movement with its lost potential of forming a strong counter-culture.
Disco flourished between the late 1960s and early 1970s as a counter-culture and haven for the LGBTQ community, particularly African Americans and Latinos. Separating itself from the traditional heterosexual norm of partner dancing, disco revolutionized individualism in social dance, disregarding gender and race as a separating factor in dance clubs. As was the case in the parallel rise of hip hop, disco faced the dilemma of ‘selling out’ in the name of American capitalism to profit off of the genre’s mainstream success. Music producers began whitewashing the genre and appealing to heterosexual culture, driving queer and racially diverse icons of disco from the music scene. This major shift in the genre’s ideals sanitized the perception of disco and distanced disco from its individualistic roots. At the end of the decade, most people looked back on disco as commercialized and pop-obsessed, rather than considering the movement with its lost potential of forming a strong counter-culture. The disco era culminated in the “Disco Demolition Night,” described in Tim Lawrence’s essay “Disco and the Queering of the Dance Floor” as a “record burning rally [in Chicago led by] the beneficiaries of 1960s liberalism.” Today’s musical and political climate relegates disco to a cheesy, politically neutral caricature. The inauthentic and heteronormative “Saturday Night Fever” interpretation of disco denies modern society the original intentions of the genre’s performers. Disco paved the path for freedom in gender identification and fluidity and broke away from the heterosexual standards of America’s past.