Ignited flames, dug up bases, and thousands of people jumping and screaming in complete chaos: this was the scene of White Sox's Stadium Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979. On a day dubbed as Disco Demolition Night, over 50,000 people attended a double header to do more than watch baseball. With a disco record and 98 cents, people were allowed to watch the Chicago White Sox play the Detroit Tigers and participate in making history.
Steve Dahl, a personality from Chicago's rock station; WDAI had collaborated with the White's Sox's marketing director, Mike Veeck, to make this promotion happen. While the White Sox were desperate to find a way to fill their stadium, Steve Dahl had an agenda of his own. He was recently fired after the station he was working for had decided to switch to an all-disco format, due to disco's growing popularity. Leaving a sour taste in his mouth, Steve found the perfect opportunity to manifest his anti-disco revolt. That's when Steve and Mike dedicated a night to destroying disco vinyls.
After the first game of the double header, Steve drove a jeep onto the field. He dressed in a military uniform and placed a giant box in the middle of the outfield. The box contained all the vinyl records the fans had submitted to receive entry into the game. As "disco sucks" chants echoed, the giant box exploded and the rock fan-filled stadium erupted into joy. When one person was seen rushing onto the field, many began to follow, and thus Comiskey Park became utter pandemonium. It took an hour to restore order; however, the field was left in shambles, forcing the White Sox to forfeit the second game.
Although Steve Dahl would say that the mayhem was nothing more than passionate rock fans expressing their love for rock, there seemed to be an even deeper meaning to what this fiasco really meant. To many who were in attendance, they believe this event perpetuated hate towards black culture, latinos and homosexuals, because many disco fans were made up of this demographic. Even vinyl records that were being destroyed were non-disco black musicians.
Eventually radio stations limited the amount of disco being played, but a new genre began to emerge in the underground scene throughout Chicago. House music was born out of disco's ashes. A New Yorker named Robert Williams had just opened up an all night club called The Warehouse in the West Loop and convinced his friend Frankie Knuckles to be its resident DJ. Frankie Knuckle's mixes of funk, disco, soul, and European electronic music made The Warehouse the center of gay black nights. And as it became more and more popular, The Warehouse put Chicago on the map and Chicago became the mecca of house music.
On this day, January 18, we celebrate the birthday of Frankie Knuckles and honor a legend and pioneer of house music. As we look back at Disco Demolition Night, we realize that the development of house music would not have started, if it wasn't for disco being forced to go underground and evolve into house music. And house music wouldn't have become what it is now without Frankie Knuckles.
Rest In Peace House Legend
January 18, 1955 - March 31, 2014
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