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Disco was a hugely popular music genre that hit the mainstream at the end of the 1970s. Due to films like "Saturday Night Fever" (1978), the popularity of the dance clubs and the catchy tunes of this ultra-commercial genre disco became widespread. During the 1980s disco evolved into dance pop.

Zappa about Disco

"Disco music makes it possible to have disco entertainment centers. Disco entertainment centers make it possible for mellow, laid-back, boring kinds of people to meet each other and reproduce. People who think of themselves as young moderns, upwardly mobile, go for the fusion or disco – that slick, cleaned-up, precise, mechanical kind of music. And they tend to dislike everything else because it doesn't have its hair combed. Three-chord fuzztone music is not exactly the kind of thing that you'd expect a young executive to be interested in. He wants something that sounds like it might be really good to listen to riding around in a Maserati. So ultimately, that cheapens the music and whatever the musicians have done. ... But like I said, it's a good thing that all that music is there for all those people. Because without it, their lifestyle would lack something." (FZ in Garni Du Jour, Lizard King Poetry And Slime).

"And after that there's "Disco Boy". That song came about because we were in Denmark and we went to a place there called the The Disc Club, and it was really poot. It was so make-believe sophisticated that it was embarrassing. The place was decorated like a playboy-type living room would sorta be like – lowboy chairs and snackettes on the table, and everybody drinks and dances to these robot beat records, which I happen to like you know. I'm very fond of monotony, I think it's an integral part of contemporary civilization and once you adapt to it you're better in phase with reality."

JL: Is this a blatant commercial sell-out on your part Frank?
FZ: No, I think that it's probably one of the funnier commentaries on the disco syndrome.

(FZ in Zappa On Air)

"You could get laid at a peace march, too. After the march, you grabbed a girl with a stinking blanket, and it was something to do. That's what it was all about. Now, you can go to a disco and do the same thing – and you don't have to smell that blanket." (FZ in Interview: Frank Zappa)

"Disco music, for example, is banging you over the head and reinforcing your factory rhythm. Anything that deviates from that reinforcement of your factory rhythm could be perceived as rhythmically dissonant." (FZ in Interview by Bob Marshall)

"Now, if you're playing a straight disco number where everybody is marching along to the same beat, well, your options for the amount of intrigue you can create with a melody improvised against a chord are pretty limited. Because the minute you stray from an exact 16th note fluctuation, the disco consumer loses interest because he wants everything to sound like it came out of a Casio rhythm machine." (The Frank Zappa Interview Picture Disk, pt.1)

"I even like some disco music, when it's clever and the production is fantastic." (FZ in Father Of Invention)

"I'm making comments about society, and the society that I was commenting on was engaged in what they love to describe as the sexual revolution – a world of sexual incompetents encountering each other under disco circumstances. Now can't you do songs about that?" (BBC Television Tribute)

Referenced in songs

  • Disco Boy
  • Dancin' Fool: "the disco folks all dressed up like they're fit to kill" (...) I've got it all together now with my very own disco clothes."
  • From the liner notes of On The Bus: "WARREN, one of the other guys from Joe's Garage Band has already recognized her (he's now one of the foremost disco-fusion rhythm guitar players on the WetT-Shirt Circuit, currently providing exciting strummery here in Miami)"
  • Joe's Garage (Track): "And then they got that disco thing"
  • I Don't Wanna Get Drafted: "roller skates and disco is a lot of fun".
  • At the start of the film Baby Snakes (The Film) Zappa is seen rehearsing with his band. At a certain point he notes that his musicians misunderstand his intentions, which prompts him to announce to them: "Disco." At this signal they all stop. One of the tracks is called Bruce Bickford/"Disco Outfreakage" on the dvd.
  • Dead Girls Of London: "You see 'em dancing at the disco every night."
  • The Poodle Lecture: "except that this dog had too goddamn much hair on it. It didn't have the disco look that's so popular nowadays."
  • Is That Guy Kidding Or What?: "Some of you already have those cute little shirts on that say "disco sucks," right? That's not all that sucks."
  • Bob In Dacron: followed the misadventures of an ugly guy with poor taste in fashion going to the local disco bar in hopes of picking up a date. Bob gets drunk, makes a fool of himself, gets kicked out, and meets a bag lady about whom he has some strange, erotic fantasies. (Source: Zappa Pokes Into The Fine Arts)
  • The "Real World" Thematic Extrapolations: A night out in the disco is described.

See also