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That Crazy Disco Beat

Disco began with a group of DJs who found themselves discussing the music they played at the clubs. They were David Mancuso, David Rodriguez, Michael Cappello, and Nicky Siano. They were DJs who played music at Manhattan clubs such as The Gallery, The Loft, and Le Jardin. It would be their influence that would bring disco into the light.

In 1973 a song titled “Soul Makossa” got into the Billboard Top 40. This song had been recorded in 1972 by a Cameroonian artist named Emmanual “Manu” Dibango who lived in Paris, France. The song had the catchy rhythmic chant – “Mama-ko, mama-sa,maka-maka-sa”. This chant also can be found in “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”” by Michael Jackson and “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna. The song might not have even been heard in the U.S. if DJ David Mancuso hadn’t discovered it in a Brooklyn, New York Jamaican record shop. Once he heard the song he knew it was just right for dancing.

OnceMancuso started playing “Soul Makossa” at The Loft all of his fellow DJs simply had to have a copy of their own. It was at this time that the song became in great demand and Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines recognized that the street price for this rare import was heading right through the roof in NewYork City. Everyone had to have a copy. Finally, Atlantic Records licensed “SoulMakossa” from Dibango’s French label. This was the beginning of the great disco explosion.

Disco music began in the nightclubs of the 1970s and the music was a mix of different musical traditions like soul, funk, Motown, salsa, and even meringue. It was music to be danced to while the beat throbbed through you and those disco balls sparkled as they turned overhead.

Disco brought to light such dances as the Hustle,

the Bump,

the YMCA which was popularized by the group The Village People.

In the nightclubs, DJs were mixing up songs for the disco beat like “Get Down Tonight” by KC and the Sunshine Band.

“Never Can Say Goodbye” by Gloria Gaynor

Once JohnTravolta danced in “Saturday Night Fever” the disco craze took on like wildfire. The Bee Gees were at the top with hits like “Night Fever”, “You’re More Than a Woman” and “Stayin’ Alive”.

Everyone who was anyone just had to be part of disco and the nightclubs in cities like New York were busting at the seams.  Looking back at the music of that time one of the top performers was Donna Summer with special renditions like “MacArthur Park”

There was Gloria Gaynor with “I Will Survive” and it seemed that the only way to survive the 1970s was to keep dancing to a disco beat

Chic came out with “Le Freak”

Blondie with “Heart of Glass”

Barry White with “You’re My First, My Last, My Everything”

As the disco music swirled many a time the disco compositions were long and complex while your feet were trying to find the right rhythm and it seemed that the sparkling disco ball was just going to spin off into eternity while the music still throbbed on and I felt exactly like a “Dancing Queen” ABBA


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