Tag Archives: Disco

#FlashbackFriday Disco Classic! - Donna Summer Performs "McArthur Park" [1978]

#FlashbackFriday Disco Classic! – Donna Summer Performs “McArthur Park” [1978]

MacArthur Park was written by singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb that was originally recorded actor and singer Richard Harris in 1968. Harris’s version peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number four on the UK Singles Chart. “MacArthur Park” was subsequently covered by numerous artists, including a 1969 Grammy-winning version by country music singer Waylon Jennings and the premier disco a number one Billboard Hot 100 cover by Donna Summer in 1978.

Italian music producer Giorgio Moroder would recall that he and his collaborator Pete Bellotte had been interested in the concept of either remixing a track – as yet undecided on – which had been a hit in the 1960s or else remaking a 1960s hit as a dance track: Moroder – “I remember that I was driving in … on the Hollywood Freeway, and I heard the original song [i.e. “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris] on the radio. I thought: ‘That’s it – that’s the song we’ve been looking for almost a year.’

And the rest is disc-tory!

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Gay History - May 1: Legendary Disco “Studio One” Opens in West Hollywood

Gay History – May 1: Legendary Disco “Studio One” Opens in West Hollywood

On May 1, 1974: “Studio One” (formerly The Factory) opens in West Hollywood. The labyrinthine establishment, one of the biggest of its kind (it has four bars, a dinner theater, a jewelry concession, and a game room), quickly establishes itself as L.A.’s premier gay nightclub, the disco to end all disco.

In the 1979 edition of the Bob Damron guidebook, during the height of the disco years, Studio One was characterized by its young crowd and entertainment, which included cabaret performances. It was called a “top super bar” 

The secret to Studio One was its specificity and excellent execution. The owner, Scott Forbes, was dubbed “Disco King” by the Los Angeles Times in a 1976 feature. He was quoted saying “Studio One was planned, designed and conceived for gay people, gay male people” (LA Times, 1976).  Forbes also fixated on the issue of “the Door,” (much like Steve Rubell and Studio 54 in NYC.) which he thought was the demise of many discos, unwelcome patrons gaining entry. This is apparently what made Studio One what it was: a sort of gay male haven.

Studio One was a large and lavish space. Pictures show huge dance spaces, large bars, and hundreds of people and throughout its history, the club has been associated with the gay rights movement. Also many celebrities graced the club either as guests or performers, especially during the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. Photos of those people were displayed in the hallway between the disco and cabaret. Including: Chita Rivera, Sylvester, Waylon & Madam,  Bernadette Peters, Ike & Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, and Joan Rivers. And this is just a partial list.

Studio One did have it’s share of controversies. Since its opening, the club catered almost exclusively to upper-class, white gay men. And that did not go unnoticed. In 1976. The Los Angeles Times ran a story about the accusations of discrimination. , Scott Forbes doubled down on his position, stating that his nightclub simply had strict standards and that it was “probably the finest run establishment in the city as far as control of people is concerned.

Times change and disco died. On Saturday, Nov. 9, 1988 . West Hollywood bid a bittersweet farewell to Studio One

The space continued to operate under it’s original name “The Factory” until eventually it was sold for acreage.

Today there is nothing at the address but a big hole in the ground where great times were had and memories were born. It soon to become a 250 room hotel, but beware, some of the ghosts of The Factory and Studio One may still be there.

Gay History - April 26, 1977: Studio 54 Opens in NYC

Gay History – April 26, 1977: Studio 54 Opens in NYC

On this day in 1977, crowds gathered outside 254 West 54th Street in New York City waiting and hoping for a chance to enter what would soon become the global epicenter of the disco craze and the most famous nightclub in the world: Studio 54,.

The masterminds behind Studio 54 were Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, college roommates at Syracuse University who got into the nightclub business after their first venture, a chain of steak restaurants, failed to flourish. But before taking Manhattan by storm and becoming famous for openly and shamelessly excluding all but the most chic, famous or beautiful patrons from their establishment.

Rubell and Schrager sunk about $400,000 to renovate the old CBS studio which was a giant risk.

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A relatively unknown woman who deserves the lion’s share of the credit for making 54 into the celebrity playground that it became was Carmen D’Alessio, a public-relations entrepreneur in the fashion industry, whose Rolodex included names like Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote. Her buzz-building turned the grand opening into a major item in the New York gossip columns, and her later efforts—like having Bianca Jagger ride a white horse into the club for her 30th birthday party—stoked the public’s fascination with Studio 54 even further. Not just the usual celebrity suspects—actors, models, musicians and athletes—but also political figures like Margaret Trudeau, and even Jackie Onassis.

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We’ll never know the amount of cocaine that went up nostrils at Studio 54 – suffice it to say, the tons of glitter dumped from the ceiling helped conceal the thin layer of wall-to-wall powder.  While blue-collar Americans stood in line to never make it past the velvet rope, the popular people snorted and cavorted under big sparkly disco balls.  

via GIPHY

Ian Schrager, took more of a behind-the-scenes role, but Steve Rubell basked in the glory of his newfound celebrity status.  Rubell was often spotted in gay NYC clubs, and was infamous for pressuring his own bartenders and busboys to sleep with him to stay employed and get ahead, but still, for some reason, remained in the closet.  Soon, this double lifestyle and intense drug use took its toll.

Rubell could be a real dick to his employees.  Attribute it to his drug use and insane lifestyle if you wish, but whatever the case, it created some disgruntled employees…. one in particular would cause the whole thing to come crashing down.

A male waiter went to the IRS and told them about Rubell and Schrager’s shady bookkeeping practices.  Apparently, they had been keeping vast sums of cash in Hefty garbage bags and stowing them in the ceiling.  Turns out, Rubell and Schrager had only paid $8,000 in taxes since they opened, while were making more than $75,000 per night.

Rubell hired close friend and the infamous and vilest closet case lawyer Roy Cohn to represent him and also bargained with the IRS, saying he would reveal a big secret if they’d be lenient.

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The secret? Rubell claimed that President Carter’s Chief of Staff, Hamilton Jordan, had snorted cocaine in the Studio 54 basement.  The allegations couldn’t be substantiated, but they made life miserable for Jordan.  They brought scandal to the White House and had the FBI knocking on Jordan’s door.

In the end, Rubell and Schrager pled guilty and were sentenced to three years in prison.

Studio 54 was over.  Liza Minnelli sung “New York, New York” at the farewell party and the doors were closed.  It reopened in the 1980s under new management, but it just wasn’t the same.  Disco was dead.

After serving their sentences, Rubell and Schrager amazingly rebounded and became “respectable” hotel operators – making more money than ever.

Steve Rubell died of AIDS in 1989, but Ian Schrager has kept the hotel business thriving to this day.

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Image result for studio 54
Image result for studio 54
Image result for studio 54

Gay History – January 20, 1979: Gloria Gaynor’s Gay Anthem “I Will Survive” Released – Five Facts You Didn’t Know

On January 20, 1979 Gloria Gaynor’s recording of I Will Survive was released and started its way up the music charts.

“I Will Survive” became one of the quintessential anthems for the Gay Pride that year and has held strong as a favorite of gay men everywhere.

But did you also know………

1. The song was released as a B-side

Gaynor originally released “I Will Survive” as the B-side to her cover of the Righteous Brothers’ “Substitute” in 1978. It wasn’t until radio DJs around the country took notice of “I Will Survive” and began giving the song airplay that the song quickly rocketed to the top of the charts and became a dance club staple.

2. Gaynor won the only Disco Grammy

Gloria Gaynor won the Grammy award for Best Disco Recording in 1980 for “I Will Survive.” This was the first and only time the Grammys offered this category at the awards and soon eliminated it after the fall of disco.

3. It doesn’t feature any background singers

Unlike many disco hits recorded at the time, “I Will Survive” is recorded without any background singers adding to the sound. Gaynor also recorded the song at a higher vocal register than she normally sings and the track wasn’t overproduced like her earlier hits.

4. The song has charted in every decade

Dozens of artists have covered Gaynor’s hit anthem, helping it achieve a timeless status on the charts. Since its release in the ’70s, “I Will Survive” has re-surfaced on the Hot 100 chart every decade in a variety of forms. In the ’80s, R&B singer Safire released her version that peaked at #53 in 1989. Singer Chantay Savage’s jazzy ballad peaked at #23 on the Hot 100 in 1996. In 2009, pop group the Pussycat Dolls sampled “I Will Survive” in their hit “Hush Hush; Hush Hush” that peaked at #73 and the hit show Glee helped bring the song back in 2011 with its Destiny’s Child mashup with “Survivor” that peaked at #51 on the chart.

5. “I Will Survive” has become a source of empowerment

The song has played an important part in many people’s lives as a source of inspiration and empowerment to overcome any obstacle in life. It not only serves as a break-up anthem for women that rouses up strength and power to move on from a relationship, but as the quintessential  empowerment song in the gay community to those who leave them behind, and even to Gaynor herself.

Just before recording “I Will Survive,” Gaynor spent six months in the hospital from a back injury and the song served as her own source of motivation to survive and overcome the injury. Since its release, “I Will Survive” has been translated in 20 different languages all over the world, and remains one of the most popular karaoke songs to this day.

Now that you know a little more behind the tune, watch and sing along with Gloria Gaynor’s timeless PRIDE anthem below!


Source K-Earth 101

Crisco Disco #FlashbackFriday! – Celi Bee & The Buzzy Bunch “Superman” (1977) – Video

Celi Bee s a New York-born singer of Puerto Rican Parents. Born in New York, she initially relocated back to Puerto Rico with her parents.

There she met Pepe Luis Soto and in the 1960’s and they began making music together. In 1972, she won a festival called Festival De La Voz y La Cancion, with the song, “Yo Quiero Un Pincel. She was initially popular in Spain, and Puerto Rico.

In 1977 she recorded a song called “Superman“, which coincided with the release of the film of the same name. The song became a hit, reaching #3 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart and was played  in gay bars, discos, and backrooms EVERYWHERE.

Back2Stonewall Sunday Tea Dance:

Back2Stonewall Sunday Tea Dance: (The Best Part of) Breaking Up by Roni Griffith (1982)

(The Best Part of) Breaking Up” is a song written by Phil SpectorPete Andreoli and Vince Poncia. It was first recorded by The Ronettes, in 1964.

In 1982 singer Roni Griffith hit number two on the US Dance Club Songs chart for two weeks with her Hi-NRG version of the song in 1982. By the end of that year Griffin had a platinum and gold record for her hits “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up” and “Desire”.

In 1983 Griffin’s career took a strange turn when she pursued a career as Christian Contemporary artist. She appeared on The 700 Club  and in 2004, she released her second Christian Contemporary album, entitled Only You.

Oy gavalt!

Crisco Disco #FlashbackFriday ! - Patrick Hernandez: "Born To Be Alive" (1979)

Lost NYC Gay History: Remembering Crisco Disco

Crisco Disco was located at 408 West 15th. between 9th and 10th Avenue in what was once New York City’s old “Meatpacking district”.

Opened in the late 1970’s. Crisco’s as it was called was an after-hours, milti-floor club in an old converted warehouse complete that was open from 9:00 pm at night well into late morning. The DJ booth was a huge Crisco can and it attracted a diverse group, from leather queens, to Twinks to the Studio 54 crowd.

Crisco’s didn’t have a liquor license (you had to buy tickets which you exchanged for drinks) or if you were in with the club owner you could BYOB.

Hank the owner of Crisco had an incredible cocaine habit, he would invite, celebrities, fellow city gay bar and club employees, and all the attractive men he could into his VIP room where a huge pile of blow the size of a card table would be waiting The club’s VIP room was notorious for the free drugs — so famous in fact that Blondie’s song “Rapture,” with the line “Flash is fast, Flash is cool” refers to a “well known coke and heroin dealer who hung out in the club.

Crisco Disco closed in the early-mid 1980’s and the warehouse that housed it sat unoccupied unoccupied over 30 years until it was bought and turned an upscale restaurant during the Meatpacking districts “revitalization”

Unfortunately few pictures remain and not much has been written and documented about Crisco Disco despite it’s important place in New York City’s gay history.

If you have any memories, stories or photos of Crisco Disco please feel free to post them in the comment section below or email me at Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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.

 

Gay History: The Lost and Forgotten Art of Gay Disco Fan Dancing Featuring: Bret Lacquement [Rare Video]

The Lost and Forgotten Art of Gay Disco Fan Dancing Featuring: Bret Lacquement [Rare Video]

Disco Ball

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s during the heyday of gay disco not only were you treated to the hedonistic world of loud thumping music, poppers, great recreational drugs, and the bodies of hundreds of  hot, sweaty, gyrating men.  If you lucky enough were treated to spectacular displays of “disco fan dancing”.

No one knows when it started and who was the first gay man to hit the floor and twirl but we do know that one of the best fan dancers of the era was Bret Lacquement member of the first and finest of the fan dancing troops who toured Europe and America  teaching and dancing.

Disco fan dancing is truly a forgotten art form as well as a lost piece of gay history.

Watch this rare 1977 footage of Bret twirling at the White Party at the Trocadero Transfer below.

The Very Gay and Interesting History of the Almost Lost Tradition of the Sunday Tea Dance

This is one of Back2Stonewall.com’s most popular Gay History posts.  We hope that you enjoy revisiting it or reading it for the first time.

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The Very Gay History of the Almost Lost Tradition of the Sunday Tea Dance

Many gay men under the age of 30 today are totally clueless of  the almost lost tradition of the Sunday Tea Dance. (A tradition that really must be brought back.) So here’s a little history primer on the “Sunday T-dance” and how and why it was embraced it in the gay culture.

Historically, tea was served in the afternoon, either with snacks (“low tea”) or with a full meal (“high tea” or “meat tea”). High Tea eventually moved earlier in the day, sometimes replacing the midday “luncheon” and settled around 11 o’clock, becoming the forerunner of what we know as “brunch”.

From the late 1800’s to well into the pre-WWI era in both America and England, late afternoon (low) tea service became the highlight of society life. As dance crazes swept both countries, tea dances became increasingly popular as places where single women and their gentlemen friends could meet — the singles scene of the age.

While tea dances enjoyed a revival in America after the Great War, The Great Depression of the 30’s wiped them out. Tea consumption was in steady decline in America anyways and by the 50’s, tea was largely thought of as something “your grandmother drinks”. Also, nightlife was moving later and younger. Working men and women were too busy building the American Dream to socialize so it was left to their teenaged children in the age of sockhops and the jukebox diner. Rock and roll was dark and dangerous — something you sneaked out for after dinner, not took part in before dinner.

Gay people, of course, were still largely underground in the 50s, but it was in these discreet speakeasies that social (nonpartnered) dancing was evolving. It was illegal for men to dance with men, or for women to dance with women. In the event of a raid, gay men and lesbian women would quickly change partners to mixed-couples. Eventually, this led to everyone sort of dancing on their own.

By the late 60s, gay men had established the Fire Island Cherry Grove and also the more subdued and “closeted” Pines (off of Long Island, in New York) as a summer resort of sorts. It was illegal at that time for bars to ‘knowingly sell alcohol to homosexuals’ and besides many of the venues there were not licensed as ‘night clubs’ or to sell alcohol. To avoid attracting attention, afternoon tea dances were promoted. Holding them in the afternoon also allowed those who needed to catch the last ferry back to the mainland to attend.

The proscription against same-sex dancing was still in effect and  gay men were not allowed to dance together by law, so organizers were forced to institute ‘no touching’ rules. The only way it could happen was in a group. The line dance was born. Dances like the “Hully Gully” and “The Madison” allowed men to dance together as long as there was at least one woman involved. It became the rage in the Pines. The dancing was monitored by someone up on a ladder with a flashlight and megaphone to observe, if the men got too close the light would be shined on them. The dance would be featured in the 1970 film “Boys in the Band.”

In 1967 Tea Dance went to 7 days a week during season. 

During this time raids by the Suffolk Police Department were a common occurrence on Fire Island. The men of the Pines were often rounded up like cattle and chained to poles in order for them to get their quota. Their identities were sometimes revealed in the local press.

By the 1970’s after the Stonewall riots disco music arrived and again the Tea Dance would evolve. It would now grow into a phenomenon that all of Fire Island would find their way to.

Post-Stonewall, the tea dance moved to Greenwich Village. A newly-energized gay community around Christopher Street embraced the social dancing craze.  While the Fire Island gays tended to be rich upper-class preppies, the downtown gays of Christopher Street and the Village were working-class and they tended to party at night. As in the straight community, tea dances gradually moved later until they became subsumed into the night club scene.

Through the 70’s, gay men championed the uniform of the working class — t-shirts and denim — as fashion aesthetic. In part because they were affordable, and in part because it projected an appealing hypermasculinity associated with the working class. Gays in the post-Stonewall era were consciously rebelling against the effete stereotypes associated with the manicured, sweater-wearing, tea-drinking gays of the Fire Island set. Real men wore t-shirts and drank beer. Gay men still had afternoon/early evening dances — usually on Sundays, in order to make the most of one’s weekend while still being able to get up for Monday morning’s work.

The downtown gays rejected the term “tea dance” as being too effete and opted for the supposedly butcher “t-dance”, and promoted “t-shirts and denim” as the costume of choice. By the mid 70’s, the “Christopher Street Clone” look (short cropped hair, mustache, plaid shirt over a tight white t-shirt, faded denim jeans that showed off your ass) had made the trans-continental trip from New York City to Los Angeles (gays in Hollywood) and, of course, to San Francisco (follow the Yellow Brick Road and it leads to Castro). It brought with it the tea dance phenomenon

Through the decades the popularity of the tea dance has waned. And while it still survives in Fire Island and a few gay bastions like Provincetown it is all but gone and those few remaining are shadows of their former selves.

Lets not let the Tea Dance become a piece of our forgotten gay history.

*TRIVIA:

Back in the day a no gay man worth his weight in poppers ever went to Sunday Brunch before 2 p.m. and timed it that way as  to hit the Tea Dance at 4 p.m. part of this was because they were out at after-hours clubs, the Baths, or the Meat Rack the night before till 6 or 7 a.m. in the morning.

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1979TE~1 copy

1983 tea bweb

tea dance t shirt design 1983

Source:  The Clock