|If you were young and shiftless -- and repulsed by Abba -- Disco Demolition Night was for you.|
The anti-disco crusade was a fundamentally local fight in Chicago. Rock stations were flipping their formats to disco. Dahl had left his previous employer, WDAI, when it became "Disco DAI." He and the station parted ways on Christmas Eve, 1978. And then it was on. "It was the rockers versus the discoers," says Harry Wayne Casey, front-man of KC and the Sunshine Band. "We were like Elvis in the fifties and the Beatles in the sixties. Of course there was a backlash. We changed music." When you're talking to Casey, you can't help but reply "Uh-huh, uh-huh" to everything he says. Like you're a backup singer. Maybe that's the way ... uh-huh, uh-huh ... he likes it ... uh-huh, uh-huh. But it's totally distracting.
"It didn't affect me right away," he says of Disco Demolition Night. "While that was going on, I had two hits on the charts, 'Please Don't Go' and 'Yes I'm Ready.'" Initially, disco maven Gloria Gaynor was also unmoved. "My first reaction was that it was silly. If you don't like the music, don't listen. I still don't think it affected anything except the use of the word 'Disco.' The music's alive and well. It just changed its name to protect the innocent. "And if they did kill it, they didn't kill me," she adds, in the truest spirit of her biggest hit. (What, you thought she'd crumble? You thought she'd lay down and die? Oh no, not -- never mind.)
|Disco Demolition Night hasn't prevented K.C. and the Sunshine Band from grooving on.|
|In 1959, Comiskey Park had a real circus entertain the fans during a double header.|
In the umpire's room underneath Comiskey Park, Bill Veeck argued. He wanted to complete the doubleheader. He later told the press, "It was a happy crowd, not a mean crowd." Crew chief Dave Phillips disagreed. He phoned A.L. president Lee MacPhail, who initially decided only to postpone game two. Sparky Anderson argued that the Sox should forfeit. Anderson won the debate. Police in riot gear eventually cleared the field. The fires were extinguished and the haze lifted. Six people were injured and 39 arrested for disorderly conduct -- no doubt the 39 slowest, insanest Cohos. Bill Veeck returned to the playing surface and grabbed a microphone. "Please keep your rain checks," he told the crowd. "We'll tell you what to do with them once we figure it out ourselves." Dahl and Meier retreated to a downtown Holiday Inn. "We listened to the radio," Dahl recalls. "All the talk shows from around here and, you know, people talking about how we should be fired. We pretty much stayed up all night. And then we went to work." Dahl's voice was slow and gravelly the next morning. He read the headlines in the Tribune and Sun-Times. He mocked the indignant tone of local coverage. "I think for the most part everything was wonderful," he told his listeners. "Some maniac Cohos got wild, went down on the field." He paused. "Which you shouldn't have done. Bad little Cohos." Andy Behrens is a freelance writer in Chicago.