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Gay Disco Music History – July 7, 1979: France Joli Fills In For Donna Summer On Fire Island and Becomes A Star [Video]

Disco star France Joli literally lived the old “42nd Street” movie line dream “of you’re going out a youngster but you are coming back a star.”

Over 40 years ago on the hot summer night of July 7th. 1979 before an estimated audience of 5000 screaming gay men on Fire Island the 16 year old singer at the last minute was asked to fill in for Donna Summer at an all-star disco music concert.

Jolie remembers it vividly. “Sister Sledge was there. EVERYBODY was there!”

When it came time for her to perform. She stepped up to the microphone and began to sing, never realizing that she was about to turn the first major corner in her career and in the process steal the show from some of the biggest and brightest names in the industry. Seven minutes later, when she took her bows, the crowd went wild, flipping head over heals for this unknown Canadian teenager and proclaiming her, from that day forward, a star in the truest sense of the word.

“Come to Me” became the number one disco song of the summer, and the definitive Fire Island gay tea dance classic.



Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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3 thoughts on “Gay Disco Music History – July 7, 1979: France Joli Fills In For Donna Summer On Fire Island and Becomes A Star [Video]”

  1. God those were the good old days. We didn’t have marriage but we had such freedom from HIV. It was so much fun. But it all crashed shortly after. It was a very dark time for many years. I feel so lucky to be alive.

  2. Every time I see this video I think “my god, I wish I was there”.
    Nowadays there is a lot of talk about divas like Madonna and Beyoncé, but many forget about some like France Joli.
    I find it amazing how she could entertain the audience with so much grace at such a young age.

    Jessa C.

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