The Politics of Dancing...or Why Occupy The Disco?
Before Stonewall happened in 1969, two people of the same sex were not legally allowed to dance together in New York City. You could get busted for engaging in such act, and people often got in trouble with the cops for doing exactly that. But over the years following the Stonewall riots and the consequent repeal of the city’s cabaret law in 1971, dancing would become gay people's most powerful form of protest, and the main tool for expressing who they are. It laid ground for the gay civil rights movement to flourish by connecting the right people across dancefloors. And this social, political and dance revolution would be powered by uptempo black R&B records played by gay DJs at queer and racially diverse places like The Loft, The Gallery, the Paradise Garage and The Saint, which were only to be labelled “disco music” by the mass media towards the end of the '70s decade. The rest is history, and gay culture, civil rights and even the mainstream music industry would change forever.
Disco (and house music later in the '80s) is more than a music genre – it has a history of gathering under one roof people that wouldn't otherwise come together: gay, straight, black, white, rich and poor. It started as a revolutionary gay movement with direct social and political consequences. Forty years later, disco and house still push boundaries and change concepts by simply inspiring us to dance (and collectively protest) all night long.
Annie feat. Bjarne Melgaard: ‘Russian Kiss’
The politics of dance music are obvious in Annie's latest release, 'Russian Kiss,' a collaboration with fine artist Bjarne Melgaard. Scheduled to coincide with the kick-off of the Sochi Olympics, the song and video are blunt statements against Putin and his gay-hating laws that have been broadly covered by all media channels at this point. Part of the proceeds from the song will go to the gay rights advocacy non-profit All Out. The track is heavily inspired by Lil’ Louis’ 1989 classic hit, 'French Kiss,' with an important twist: the infamous female orgasm break is replaced with a sexy male version. A tweak that could perhaps shake Russian’s authorities suppressed homoerotic feelings?
More new music AFTER THE JUMP...
Francis Inferno Orchestra: 'Hezbollah'
Francis Inferno Orchestra's bellicose track 'Hezbolla' is another great example of politics marrying dance music. By turning military band percussion and bombing sounds into an infectious rhythm and extending it for a long intro, the Australian producer creates enough expectation for what’s to come later in the song – a beautiful, uplifting set of disco horns and groovy bass lines. It shows us there is always hope in the end. With 'Hezbolla,' Francis Inferno Orchestra makes love, not war.
Todd Terje: 'Delorean Dynamite'
In preparation for his long awaited debut album, titled It’s Album Time, Todd Terje shared the dreamy, space disco 'Delorean Dynamite' which will be included on the release, due April 8.
Munk & Rebolledo: 'Surf Smurf'
A German-Mexican effort by Munk and Rebolledo, 'Surf Smurf' is sure to be a hit in 2014 with its surprising "rockabilly" approach to house music. Hear the complete version on Spotify.
Plastic Plates & Sam Sparro: 'Stay In Love'
Plastic Plates has been a strong supporter of the gay community and of OXD, and in celebration of Valentine’s Day last week, the Aussie producer (now based in New York) invited his former primary school mate Sam Sparro to record ‘Stay In Love.'
When you dance, you think you're just having fun. But you are also engaging in a political act as you enjoy a right others fought for in the past. Not only that, you are defying the rules that govern your everyday world (rules that often tell you how to dress, behave, feel, act and even how to move when walking down the street). Dance, and you are constantly reshaping your body however you wish while allowing your mind to wander in a trance. By dancing in a packed floor filled with great energy, you connect physically and mentally with other people like you. You become a directly link with the DJ, instantly responding to the music they play, its beats, melodies and message.
When dancing, make sure you let the DJ know you are hearing their message. If it strikes a chord, make yourself heard: dance harder, raise your hand, shout out loud, express yourself (don't repress yourself). Give it back to the DJ and the conversation will keep on growing richer. Next time you are on a dancefloor, turn around, dance with a stranger, as they are your chosen family and your community for that night and perhaps many others. And when you, your disco family, the DJ and the music become one, it’s magic – and politics too.
Paradisco at Le Bain this Sunday, February 23 at Le Bain, The Standard Highline
Paradisco is back for a new season! We’re moving downtown but still continuing to bring out the best daytime disco and the fun, welcoming vibe that Paradisco is known for. Come by after brunch, or for an early evening drink, and help us break in our new Paradisco season at Le Bain at The Standard, Highline this Sunday from 3-9pm.
More details on our site.
Follow us on Spotify! Subscribe to our 'As Seen on Towleroad Playlist to listen to tracks posted from past weeks. For more information on OXD, check out our website and accompanying blog at www.occupythedisco.com, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @OccupyTheDisco.