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Watch Video of the Disastrous Disco Demolition Night

2 minute read

For many, disco remains the defining cultural reference point for the decade that brought us Saturday Night Fever and “Disco Inferno.” But that doesn’t mean the music was universally beloved.

As this exclusive clip from the upcoming episode of CNN’s The Seventies—which airs Thursday night at 9:00 p.m.—shows, not everyone caught the fever. On July 12, 1979, the Chicago White Sox demonstrated how true that was when the team hosted “disco demolition” night. Fans who thought that “disco sucks” were asked to bring albums that could be blown up between the two halves of a doubleheader. The crowd got so worked up that the second game never got played.

Looking back on the seventies from the vantage point of January 1980, TIME’s Lance Morrow lumped disco in with the “diversions”—”primal screaming, disaster movies, jogging, disco, Perrier water, pornography”—that distracted a nation exhausted by the 1960s. But, as is also made clear by The Seventies, no matter how many people wanted to see some stuff set on fire in the name of disco opposition, the cultural force behind the dance music went far beyond the light-up floors of the discotheques. It was originally the music of outsiders, and it proved that those those left out by the world of rock still wanted to dance.

Musicians on the Cover of TIME

The Dixie Chicks (May 29, 2006)JILL GREENBERG FOR TIME
Kanye West (Aug. 29, 2005)KWAKU ALSTON FOR TIME
Ricky Martin (May 24, 1999)TIME
Lauryn Hill (Feb. 8, 1999)TIME
Jewel (July 21, 1997)HERB RITTS
Pearl Jam (Oct. 25, 1993)NEAL PRESTON
Garth Brooks (March 30, 1992)JAMES SCHNEPF / GAMMA LIAISON
Madonna (May 27, 1985)FRANCESCO SCAVULLO
Michael Jackson (March 19, 1984)ANDY WARHOL
David Bowie (July 18, 1983)TIME
The Who (Dec. 17, 1979)TIME
Linda Ronstadt (Feb. 28, 1977)MILTON GREENE
Paul McCartney (May 31, 1976)RICHARD E. AARON
Elton John (July 7, 1975)DON WELLER
Cher (March 17, 1975)RICHARD AVEDON
Joni Mitchell (Dec. 16, 1974)BOB PEAK
James Taylor (March 1, 1971)J. H. BRESLOW
The Band (Jan. 12, 1970)BOB PEAK
Aretha Franklin (June 28, 1968)BORIS CHALIAPIN
The Beatles (Sept. 22, 1967)TIME
Joan Baez (Nov. 23, 1962)TIME
Frank Sinatra (Aug. 29, 1955)TIME
Rosemary Clooney (Feb. 23, 1953) BORIS CHALIAPIN
Louis Armstrong (Feb. 21, 1949)BORIS ARTZYBASHEFF
Bing Crosby (Apr. 7, 1941)ERNEST HAMLIN BAKER

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com