The first time I heard disco was on an album my mother bought for me at Children’s Palace when I was 5 years old. Songs from Saturday Night Fever was a 1978 record by The Kid Stuff Repertory Company with their version of 7 songs from the extremely popular movie ode to the disco lifestyle. I didn’t know anything about the movie yet, though I was a big fan of Welcome Back Kotter, so I knew who John Travolta was. Once I saw the movie a few years later, I realized that Vinnie Barbarino became Tony Manero after high school.
I played this record all the time. When I was 6 I started watching Dance Fever, a dance competition show. I was obsessed!
As much of a rock and roll fan as I was, it never occurred to me that disco might be the enemy. I just loved music, and disco was another way for me to enjoy it. My parents didn’t go to discos, they didn’t have any disco records, so unless I watched Dance Fever or Solid Gold I didn’t get to hear much disco. My Kid Stuff Repertory Company album was my only disco possession, and I treasured it.
In the early 1990s there was a disco revival. I’m not sure how it happened, but I was pretty excited about it. Entertainment Weekly released a two-disc set of disco classics, and by first gay best friend and I used to play it all the time when we first started going out to gay bars. “Rubber Band Man” was his favorite, but I preferred “Car Wash” and “Disco Inferno.” This collection was our soundtrack the first time we went to a porn store to buy dirty gay magazines for him. We drove to an empty parking lot a few doors down from the store right after we got our stash (I think he spent about $50!), and sat in his car with only the tiny light on his rearview mirror helping us to see. Disco was blaring through his speakers as we studied each page featuring this mysterious gay sex we were so curious about. I was ready to have our own version of Studio 54 right there in the Cleveland suburbs.
“Disco Inferno” is one of the most perfect disco songs. The beat is outrageously danceable, the refrain is catchy as hell, and when you hear it, you know exactly what’s up.
Even if you say you hate disco, there’s no way you don’t move around when you hear this song.