Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture by Alice Echols - review by Dominic Sandbrook

Dominic Sandbrook

The Beat Goes On

Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture


W W Norton 338pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

In the summer of 1979, the Chicago White Sox were one of the worst teams in the National Baseball League. So team officials were startled when, on 12 July, an estimated 70,000 people descended on Comiskey Park for a Thursday night double-header against the Detroit Tigers – an occasion that would normally attract just 15,000. In fact, most of them had come not for the baseball, but for something very different: a ‘Disco Demolition Night’, heavily advertised by the local shock-jock Steve Dahl, who had promised that any fans who brought disco records to the stadium would be able to see them publicly destroyed. The evening air was heavy with the smell of dope and the sound of hundreds of drunken teenagers chanting ‘Disco sucks’. Many, bored by the game, started tossing their records like Frisbees onto the field or lobbing firecrackers onto the fans below.

But Dahl was as good as his word. After the White Sox lost the first game, he took to the field, clad prudently in military fatigues and a helmet, and to dope-fuelled baying from the crowd he proceeded to blow up a box containing over 10,000 records, ripping

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