In the same way that nightclubs evolved from places where live bands provided the music to places where disc jockeys played records, disco changed the tradition of partner dancing.

Dancing to disco didn’t require a partner – it was free form and full of individual and often exuberant expression. Dancing in a loose crowd became typical, and the crowd itself was often a combination of people from a wide range of backgrounds. ''Unlike rock music, whose ideal audience is teenage white male, disco brought together young and old, black and white, gay and straight,'' said Barry Walters, Rolling Stone senior music critic. ''It didn't follow any rules other than it had to be danceable.”

Indeed, to satisfy the crowd and make the club a success, DJs had to figure out what songs were danceable (and many artists worked hard to make those danceable songs in order to be a part of disco’s success). DJs learned to play music specifically for a crowd of dancers, and how to gauge the crowd’s responses. The best DJs knew which songs would get people out on the dance floor.

The characteristics of disco, such as an eighth and 16th note, “four on the floor” beat, hi-hat pattern, and syncopated electric bass line, make it perfect for dancing. Typical disco dancing includes side-stepping in between bigger moves, raising arms overhead, large hip and pelvic movements, and twisting hands in time to the beat. A few common steps include pivot turns, foot stamps, and shoulder rocks. Bolder moves like jumps, moving forward and backward, and elaborate clicking of heels should probably not be attempted by beginners!

For amusement, enjoy Wikihow’s step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to dance to disco.

Film critic Pauline Kael, referring to Saturday Night Fever and disco itself, said it touched on "something deeply romantic, the need to move, to dance, and the need to be who you'd like to be. Nirvana is the dance; when the music stops, you return to being ordinary." During the disco era, the music never stopped, and everybody had the chance to be extraordinary.

Join the Cape Symphony and the Boogie Wonder Band for Symphony at the Disco on October 13 and 14. Get your tickets now at capesymphony.org or 508.362.1111.

Special Offers on October 13: The Cape Symphony is offering $20 tickets to guests under 50 on October 13 at 3:00 PM and 7:30 PM.

In order to make this weekend of disco truly special, the Cape Symphony is partnering with The West End in Hyannis on October 13. The West End will offer a 20% discount on dinner with your Symphony at the Disco ticket. The West End also hosts a “Studio 54” party from 9:00 PM until closing time. Join Jung-Ho Pak, Cape Symphony Artistic Director & Conductor, and your fellow disco lovers for a dance party.

 


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