Disco is synonymous with the outrageous dance uniforms of the 70s and early 80s: sequined pant suits, Mr. Shakedown-style pimp suits, platform shoes, crushed velvet, acid washed denim, slicked-back hair, and afros. Think: John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and you have the iconic image of disco at its height of popularity.
Disco became more than a musical genre, it embraced and fused together genres such as soul, urban, R&B, pop, and Motown, and married ethnicities in a way that had not been done before in contemporary culture. Music, dance, and fashion embraced cultural diversity. Disco invited all to get down on the dance floor to the biggest musical mashups of the day. And it was nothing without the signature dances. The Hustle, the Bus Stop, and the Four Corners characterized hip moves. The era spawned dance contest shows like Dance Fever and the ubiquitous Soul Train grew in popularity. Disco styles and dances were imported to countries all over the globe: to Japan, Britain, and Europe. In fact The Hustle was translated into international versions, each culture adding its own flavor. Europeans danced to Abba while Americans grooved to Donna Summer, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Sister Sledge.
The music was big. Synthesized orchestration and syncopated rhythms that were indicative of urban and funk lent groove-ability to the new style.
Urban funk, soul, and R&B all figured prominently in the direction of Disco, but once it caught on in the mainstream, the form was malleable to further genre fusions. For example most music critics believe that the popularity of salsa and Latin dance grew from the disco craze, or at least gained impetus.
Dance music at large replaced disco or migrated slowly, but surely. In fact disco almost melted without notice into the pop dance scene most notable in big city dance clubs. From these roots dance sub-genres such as trip-hop, electronica, drum and bass, and techno have supplanted the former disco sound, and drawn subsequent dance generations. Still the styles build strongly upon a wide range of cultural and ethnic music. Hip-hop, R&B and urban all figure prominently in today’s post-disco dance clubs.