Every Sunday evening, Hunter’s Nightclub in Wilton Manors brings back disco. With DJ Richie Rich at the helm, Hunter’s Sunday Tea Dance features dance classics from the '70s and '80s.
Starting at 6 p.m., disco veterans who were around when the music was new rub elbows (and other body parts) with youngsters who learned their disco on their grandparents’ knees. “If you’re itching to go dancing, this is the ONLY place to be on a Sunday night,” gushed a devotee on Tripadvisor. “ALWAYS a fun time.” At tea dance, people of all ages, genders and races gather to celebrate the music.
As Hunter’s Tea Dance’s popularity attests, 40 years after the “death” of disco, '70s dance music is alive and well. In the words of John-Manuel Andriote, who chronicled the genre in Hot Stuff: A Brief History of Disco, “Disco is still tremendously popular throughout the world among gay and straight and every hue of the human rainbow, and vast quantities of disco-style music are sold each year.” For a while, interest in dance music was limited to LGBT people, Blacks, Latinx and other minorities. Then, suddenly, straight white Baby Boomers put on their boogie shoes and came out of their disco closets.
PBS specials like “KC and The Sunshine Band presents - My Music: Get Down Tonight - The Disco Explosion” showcased classic dance music while old disco artists whose livelihood largely depends on their Social Security checks returned to the limelight as the stars of disco revival concerts and sea cruises. Even the intelligentsia got wind of disco and its cultural significance. Those of us fortunate enough to have satellite radio know about SiriusXM’s Studio 54 Radio (on channel 54, of course) which features “Disco, Classic, and Euro Dance music 24/7, plus DJs like Jellybean Benitez, Robbie Leslie, Tony Smith, and The Marc & Myra Show.” It is every dance queen’s dream.
As a boogie man who never gave it up or lost his youthful love for disco, I can only say that it is about time that seventies dance music got the r-e-s-p-e-c-t that it deserves. After all, as Andriote put it, “disco music ... still moves us and we still listen to it because it speaks to two of our deepest, most primal needs: the need to play and the need to dance. Disco taught us to take those needs seriously.” “Disco,” wrote critic Marty Angelo, “the long-neglected child of the ‘70s has reared its head again, but this time [there is] no one around to burn it, abuse it, or call it names. It is there to bask in all its glory and eloquence, for the entire world to behold.” To paraphrase Gloria Gaynor, disco will survive.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.