The Last Days of Disco: Abebe Remembers Donna Summer and Robin Gibb

Disco’s success at capturing glamour and sex as an aesthetic can be frightening — in approximately the same way it’s frightening to watch the world do similar things to weddings, turning them into sites of glittery yearning where one’s sense of self and love turns strangely prop-filled and expensive. This seems like one of the more-flattering reasons why rock fans treated disco with so much hostility: It’s a puritan’s gut instinct that there’s something dangerous about a sex-and-glamour bubble floating too exuberantly beyond the realm of reality, becoming too stylized and commercial. And of course straight, white, male rock fans were the ones who’d feel that fear and loathing most strongly: They’d have been the listeners with the least to gain from actively reimagining love, sex, and glamour. Disco claimed the audience with the most critical stake in reframing those things — gay, black, female, and Latino listeners chief among them.


The Last Days of Disco: Abebe Remembers Donna Summer and Robin Gibb

We Must Be Superstars – New York Magazine

The music we spend our private time on, and use to build our identities, varies more wildly than ever from person to person. But there’s at least one kind of music that needs consensus to function, and that’s the stuff we dance, party, and strut around to. “The club” might be the last remaining space where strangers are all forced to pay attention to the same songs. And whether it’s an actual club or just a bedroom, it tends to be a space where people enjoy feeling fabulous.

Cf. Norman Lebrecht.

We Must Be Superstars – New York Magazine

Sexual Politics of Dancing: The Secrets of Looking Good on the Dance Floor

This whole article is great. (via)

The largest degree of satisfaction can be found in girls under the age of 16. “They see dance as something fun, not as part of mating behavior,” says Lovatt. That changes around the age of 16. “Between 16 and 20, dance confidence among girls falls markedly,” says Lovatt. “Girls begin to see dance as a social act rather than a way of expressing themselves. They begin to worry about how they look and start searching for a boyfriend.”

But once young women have come to terms with their lost dancing innocence, the satisfaction ratings start rising again. From the age of 20 onwards, their opinion of their own dance floor competence starts to improve and keeps increasing until the age of 35. After that it hits a plateau, however, as satisfaction levels stagnate. From 55 onwards, the value even drops. “That coincides with the menopause,” says Lovatt. And it doesn’t get any better: “Dance confidence remains low for the rest of a woman’s life.”

The pattern is somewhat different among men. Their dance confidence levels keep rising until the mid 30s. It then stagnates before starting to sink from the age of 55 onwards. But then, surprisingly, men get a second wind. From 65 on, they start to once again see themselves as pretty smooth operators on the dance floor.

Sexual Politics of Dancing: The Secrets of Looking Good on the Dance Floor

The crisis in performance is, I believe, based on one simple fact. When it started, rock n roll was dance music. One day we stopped dancing to it and started listening to it and it’s been downhill ever since. We had a purpose, had a specific goal, an intention, a mandate, we made people dance or we did not work, we didn’t not get paid, we were fired, we were homeless. That requires a very different energy. To compel people to get out of their chairs and dance, it’s a working-class energy, not an artistic, intellectual, waiting-around-for-inspiration energy. It’s a get-up, go-to-work-and-kill energy. Rip it up, or die trying.

Little Steven (via austinkleon). There’s some good discussion of this in How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll. A while back I tumbled one of the good quotes about music critics versus those who dance.

Reading through the histories of both jazz and rock, I am struck again and again by the fact that although women and girls were the primary consumers of popular styles, the critics were consistently male–and, more specifically, that they tended to be the sort of men who collected and discussed music rather than dancing to it. Again, that is not necessarily a bad thing (some of my best friends…), but it is relevant when one is trying to understand why they loved the music they loved and hated the music they hated.

Another selection from How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll. Over the past year or so, I find I’m more and more reluctant to condemn music I don’t like, maybe partly because I’m more willing to dance than I used to be.

Respect the dance floor because the dance floor never lies. The DJ is not the star.

Ben Watt, via one of my old PoliSci professors.