Disco Demolition

If you destroy art you destroy the soul of a nation. No matter how you dress it up or market it, the destruction of art is always politically motivated and is one of the ingredients of Fascism.

We have had plenty of examples in the past, the 1933 book burning in the Third Reich, the burning of books and banning of art during the McCarthy era in the USA. It is always politically motivated.

Art should never be subjected to someone’s opinion but rather to someone’s taste. Basically if you don’t like it, ignore it. If you do like it, endorse it. There really is nothing more to it

On July 12, 1979, 48,000 fans packed Chicago’s Comiskey Park for Disco Demolition Night. Some spectators went out of control.

The event ended in a riot. At the climax of the event, a crate filled with disco records was blown up on the field between games of the twi-night doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Many of those in attendance had come to see the explosion rather than the games and rushed onto the field after the detonation. The playing field was so damaged by the explosion and by the fans that the White Sox were required to forfeit the second game to the Tigers.

In the 1970s, the ubiquitous disco music craze annoyed many, including popular DJ Steve Dahl, who expressed vehement protest. against disco and symbolically exploded records on air for WLUP. Mike Veeck, son of White Sox owner Bill Veeck, who was famous for combining baseball with inventive publicity stunts, hatched the idea with Dahl and WLUP’s station manager to cash in on the increasing hatred of disco with Disco Demolition Night Promotion.

Steve Dahl had lost his job spinning rock records when the radio station he worked for changed to an all-disco format. He quickly found another job at another rock station. But he was still angry.

In the late 1970s, dance-oriented disco was the most popular music genre in the United States, particularly after being featured in hit films such as Saturday Night Fever (1977).

However, disco sparked a major backlash from rock music fans—an opposition prominent enough that the White Sox, seeking to fill seats at Comiskey Park during a lackluster season, engaged Chicago shock jock and anti-disco campaigner Steve Dahl for the promotion at the July 12 doubleheader. Dahl’s sponsoring radio station was 97.9 WLUP, so admission was discounted to 98 cents for attendees who turned in a disco record; between games, Dahl was to destroy the collected vinyl in an explosion.

I am not convinced if the major backlash actually came from rock music fans or just a few Disc Jockeys. Rock acts like Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones and Kiss al had released Disco inspired songs. “I was made for loving you” by Kiss still is one of their biggest selling singles.

The event on July 12,1979 attracted an estimated 90,000 people to the 52,000-seat stadium, leaving tens of thousands roaming around the stadium and trying to sneak in. Comiskey was packed with what announcer Harry Caray deemed “a lot of funny-looking people,” most of whom were under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.

The first game was to begin at 6 pm CDT, with the second game to follow. Lorelei, a model who did public appearances for WLUP and who was popular in Chicago that summer for her sexually provocative poses in the station’s advertisements, threw out the first pitch.[ As the first game began, Mike Veeck received word that thousands of people were trying to get into the park without tickets and sent his security personnel to the stadium gates to stop them. This left the field unattended, and fans began throwing the uncollected disco LPs and singles from the stands. Tigers designated hitter Rusty Staub remembered that the records would slice through the air, and land sticking out of the ground. He urged teammates to wear batting helmets when playing their positions, “It wasn’t just one, it was many. Oh, God almighty, I’ve never seen anything so dangerous in my life.”

Attendees also threw firecrackers, empty liquor bottles, and lighters onto the field. The game was stopped several times because of the rain of foreign objects.

The first mistake organizers made on Disco Demolition night was grossly underestimating the appeal of the 98-cent discount tickets offered to anyone who brought a disco record to the park to add to the explosive-rigged dumpster. WLUP and the White Sox expected perhaps 5,000 more fans than the average draw of 15,000 or so at Comiskey Park. What they got instead was a raucous sellout crowd of 40,000-plus and an even more raucous overflow crowd of as many as 40,000 more outside on Shields Avenue. The second mistake was failing to actually collect those disco records, which would become dangerous projectiles in the hands of a crowd that was already out of control by the time Dahl detonated his dumpster in center field during warm-ups for the evening’s second game.

Dozens of hand-painted banners with such slogans as “Disco sucks” were hung from the ballpark’s seating decks. White Sox broadcaster Harry Caray saw groups of ‘music fans’ wandering the stands. Others sat intently in their seats, awaiting the explosion. Mike Veeck recalled an odor of marijuana in the grandstand and said of the attendees, “This is the Woodstock they never had.” The odor permeated the press box, which Caray and his broadcast partner, Jimmy Piersall, commented on over the air. The crowds outside the stadium also threw records, or gathered them and burned them in bonfires. Detroit won the first game, 4–1.

The first game ended at 8:16 pm; at 8:40, Dahl, dressed in army fatigues and a helmet, emerged onto the playing surface together with his broadcasting partner Meier and Lorelei. They circled the field in a Jeep, showered (according to Dahl, lovingly) by his troops with firecrackers and beer, then proceeded to center field where the box containing the records awaited, rigged with explosives. Dahl and Meier warmed up the crowd, leading attendees in a chant of “disco sucks”. Lorelei recalled that the view from center field was surreal. On the mound, White Sox pitcher Ken Kravec, scheduled to start the second game, began to warm up. Other White Sox, in the dugout and wearing batting helmets, looked out upon the scene. Fans who felt events were getting out of control and who wished to leave the ballpark had difficulty doing so; in an effort to deny the intruders entry, security had padlocked all but one gate.

Dahl set off the explosives, destroying the records and tearing a large hole in the outfield grass. With most of the security personnel still watching the gates per Mike Veeck’s orders, there was almost no one guarding the playing surface. Soon, the first of 5,000 to 7,000 attendees rushed onto the field, causing Kravec to flee the mound and join his teammates in a barricaded clubhouse. Some climbed the foul poles, while others set records on fire or ripped up the grass. The batting cage was destroyed, and the bases were pulled up and stolen.

The understaffed police were helpless. Veeck and Caray pleaded for calm, and organist Nancy Faust played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to help quiet the crowd. Chicago police finally restored order after about 37 minutes.

The pitch was so badly damaged the conditions were judged too dangerous for the scheduled game to begin, and the Detroit Tigers were awarded a win by forfeit.

Some people say that this event actually killed of Disco music altogether. I don’t subscribe to that point of view. Also some people say that this was an attack on the LGBT community, I am also not convinced about that. There were many rock artist who were gay, although they hadn’t come out yet. But I am sure that most people would have known that Elton John, Freddie Mercury and Judas Priest singer Rob Halford were either gay or bi-sexual. And they weren’t the only ones.

I do however think there may have been a racial prejudice motive behind the ‘stunt’

sources

https://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2019/07/12/disco-demolition-dahl-veeck-chicago-white-sox

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/disco-is-dealt-death-blow-by-fans-of-the-chicago-white-sox

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/on-this-day/July-August-08/On-this-Day—Disco-Demolition-Night–Ruins-Chicago-White-Sox-Game.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco_Demolition_Night

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