Thirty years after its heyday, disco has so thoroughly saturated global popular culture that its songs and signifiers are recognizable to children born in a different century. The death of disco was quick and dramatic. Disco begat new wave, early hip-hop and a lineage of pop stars that includes Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, who has performed in a dress made up of disco ball shards. From the beginning, disco music was dogged by critics as schmaltzy, repetitive and not authentically black.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Hot Stuff by Alice Echols. Disco thumps back to life in this pulsating exploration of the culture and politics of the glitterball world.
What was it about this much-maligned music that made it such hot stuff? In this incisive history, Alice Echols captures the felt Disco thumps back to life in this pulsating exploration of the culture and politics of the glitterball world. In this incisive history, Alice Echols captures the felt experience of the Disco Years—on dance floors both fabulous and tacky, at the movies, in the streets, and beneath the sheets. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published March 29th by W.
Norton Company first published March 1st More Details Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Hot Stuff , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. Sort order. Oct 09, Caitlin rated it liked it Shelves: This was good, but not as good as I expected it to be.
Maybe I set too high a standard for Ms. Echols, but probably I want something different than this book really is. If you're looking for a fairly academic review of the disco period with detailed information on specific artists and songs, this is your book. If you also want nuanced discussion that places disco in its own sociocultural milieu and offers detailed analysis of its impact both past and future and of what the rise and fall to ri This was good, but not as good as I expected it to be.
If you also want nuanced discussion that places disco in its own sociocultural milieu and offers detailed analysis of its impact both past and future and of what the rise and fall to rise again of producer-driven music means in the larger context, then this is not your book. I have a strange history with disco.
I was a punk in high school and later in life and I forswore the corporate driven mass-produced junk food that was disco with all the fervor of a teenager. I've spent most of life flouting authority and refusing to get in whatever box the world said I had to be in because I'm a woman.
I've never been interested in having someone else define being female for me - I get to define that for myself. This made punk imminently more attractive, if only because it was guaranteed to outrage somebody and to violate expectations and you've gotta love that. Guess I prefer the part of the musical sequence that turns from producer-driven music to music driven by artists.
This book is pretty good, but there are things missing here and things that are too detailed and places where I disagree with Ms. Echols' analysis. Echols falls into the unfortunate trap of many writers of musical history - she spends page after page detailing the production history of song after song ad infinitum.
Perhaps providing a discography in the back of the book and detailing selected seminal works would be a better way to go. Her analysis is relatively strong when she talks about the homosexual dance club scene, one of the birthplaces of disco. She does a good job of putting the music into that context and in those chapters and her chapter about Saturday Night Fever one of my all-time favorite movies for its brilliant picture of working class life in the seventies when literally everything was up for grabs she excels in most of her analysis, particularly in her discussion about the ways disco influenced what was male vs.
Prior to the seventies a real man certainly wouldn't blow dry his hair much less use hair care products and moisturizers and various kind of makeup as men do now. This represents a shift in consciousness and Echols explicates this with skill. Less skillful are her chapters on women and disco and the one on black masculinity both of which miss the mark and the depth of her analysis elsewhere in the book.
I could feel the author's discomfort in writing these sections and wish she had been able to get past that and to provide a more honest analytical critique. I disagree with Ms. Echols' careless dismissal of criticisms of disco for being all the things my teenage self thought it was - yes, disco is ear candy and there's a place for that, but I'm suspicious of anything the corporate musical world and its radio shills want to shove down my throat - I may be more broadminded in my musical tastes, but I still maintain a healthy wariness about the virtue of what corporations are trying to sell me today.
Like it or not there is meat in this argument and if you're going to dismiss it then you need to provide an alternative to it and suggesting that disco is female and rock is male is simple, but not substantive.
I agree with Echols' dismissal of the tendency of historians who focus on music of the seventies to dismiss disco because it was heavily commodified and to harken back to the good old days when the form was pure and wonderful and everyone skipped together to the happy music holding hands and strewing the dance floor with daisies.
And stuff. This is a criticism that gets thrown at almost every kind of music plus everything else.
While it's true that disco had humble beginnings and became mass-produced and commodified, it's also true that that is the cycle in music and most everything else, including literature. Write one successful vampire romance series and it will be immediately followed with dozens of other formulaic vampire romance series.
Don't believe me? Check out the young adult book section of Target next time you stop in. Guys may tell you they got into a band to get laid and they probably did , but somewhere in that motivation nestles the hope that the band will hit it big and make oodles of money and achieve fame and adulation and they'll be STARS. It is the nature of music and books and art and just about everything else in a capitalist society to become commodified and corporatized.
Even my beloved punk fell into that cycle see also, Green Day. The more interesting argument has to do with what it means when producers take over the music rather than artists driving their own sounds.
You can see this in much of today's hip-hop which is all about the producer and is so mechanized that musicianship is under-valued in favor of recording methods that allow producers to cut the musician right out of the picture.
What does that mean in a broader social context? I'm not sure myself, but it's something a lot more interesting to talk about rather than focusing on rock is only for white guys see you later Living Color - you don't matter and chicks like boppy pop bye bye Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney - you're not guys so you can't make rock.
The world is more complex than this particular dichotomy and with music that was and continues to be popular in transgendered communities that dichotomy seems pretty worthless. Overall this is an interesting book and it obviously gave me a lot to think about. If you're interested in music and how it works in the world this is a great book for you, even if it doesn't do everything it could have. Sep 09, Eli rated it really liked it. This book has its work set out for it in trying to balance the historical demands of a contradictory time period.
Echols is trying to explain the radical potential of disco but not render it immune to critique, and give us a solid theoretical perspective without ever straying far from what people were actually listening to.
In this, she is mostly successful, and although I can see where she might be faulted for being too academic, not academic, etc. Sep 06, Rj rated it it was amazing. Echols' look at the s and the rise and fall of disco is a beautifully nuanced study of s culture. Looking at the relationships between music, culture, identity and how it impacted previously oppressed communities she shows how disco and discos created places for new identities.
She shows how dancing was transformative not only for individuals but for subcultures who came together through the music and dancing to transform the world they lived in. The s are associated with identity politics, but they ere also a time when numbers of gay men, African Americans, and women ditched predictable social scripts. Disco played a central role in this process, which broadened the counters of blackness, femininity, and male homosexuality. And if you believed that authentic soul music was raw and unpolished, then disco's preference for silky sophistication was further evidence of its inauthenticity.
And Brian Ward argued that with the rise of disco and funk, black Americans "were dancing to keep from crying. In the way it veered between "some version of hellish and some version of swellish," the musical seemed to replicate gay life in these years. And while disco served up plenty of songs of romantic sorrow, it fashioned itself as the new sweetish status quo in which injury and solitude were banished and the principle of sybaritic soreness ruled.
While the relationship between "going out and coming out" an between consumer capitalism and gay liberation was deep and reciprocal, it was not untroubled.
Bathhouses and discos, rather than meeting halls or community centres, became what journalist Andrew Kopkind called the "sensational glue" holding these communities together. Nonstop music was central to the "throbbing lights, the engulfing sound, the heightened energy, and the hyberbolic heat," which together created what gay journalist Andrew Kopkind described as the feeling that "the world is enclosed in this hall, that there is only now, in this place and time.
Disco was the music of "jouissance"-blissful pleasure. It looked to him as though gay men were developing identical bodies fashioned for a specific activity. At first he though they were designed for particularly athletic sex, but then it dawned on him: "These bodies have been made into dancing machines.
But embedded in this macho turn were changes in gay men's identity and subjectivity. Gays not presented themselves differently, they regarded themselves differently, searched out unfamiliar sorts of sexual partners, and expanded their sexual repertoire While gay macho was facilitated by the recent introduction of Nautilus machines, its causes lay elsewhere-in gay liberation and in disco.
Cherry Grove may have boasted the Ice Palace, the first discotheque on the island and some would argue in all of New York , but the Sandpiper in the trendier Pines had supplanted it. So had the Pines' butch style which to older Grovers seemed both "ridiculous and a sham.
‘Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture’ by Alice Echols
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Dance Dance Revolution
Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? In the s, as the disco tsunami engulfed America, the once-innocent question, "Do you wanna dance? What was it about this much-maligned music that made it such hot stuff? In this incisive history, Alice Echols captures the felt experience of the Disco Years-on dance floors both fabulous and tacky, at the movies, in the streets, and beneath the sheets. Disco may have presented itself as shallow and disposable-the platforms, polyester, and plastic vibe of it all-but Echols shows that it was inseparable from the emergence of "gay macho," a rising black middle class, and a growing, if equivocal, openness about female sexuality. The disco scene carved out a haven for gay men who reclaimed their sexuality on dance floors where they had once been surveilled and harassed; it thrust black women onto center stage as some of the genre's most prominent stars; and it paved the way for the opening of Studio 54 and the viral popularity of the shoestring-budget Saturday Night Fever, a movie that challenged traditional notions of masculinity, even for heterosexuals.