Hot Stuff Disco and the Remaking of American Culture

Author(s): Echols Alice

Music | October 2020 | Staff Picks

In the 1970s, as disco engulfed America, the question, "Do you wanna dance?" became divisive, even explosive. In this incisive history, Alice Echols reveals the ways in which disco, assumed to be shallow and disposable, permanently transformed popular music, propelling it into new sonic territory and influencing rap, techno and trance. This account probes the complex relationship between disco and the era's major movements: gay liberation, feminism and African American rights. But it never loses sight of the era's defining soundtrack, spotlighting the work of precursors James Brown and Isaac Hayes, its dazzling divas Donna Summer and the women of Labelle, and some of its lesser known but no less illustrious performers like Sylvester. No one will dis disco again after reading this fascinating account of the music we love to hate but can't stop dancing to.


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In this expertly rendered, wide-ranging history of one of pop's most exciting social and musical movements, Alice Echols thoroughly recovers the moment in which disco was born and flowered--a moment of liberation for women, gay men, and not a few straight boys; of rich experimentation in the studio and behind the DJ decks; and of joyful dancing that broke down all kinds of boundaries. Echols, one of our best chroniclers of how pop creates social change (and is, in turn, inspired by it), gets its vibe because she lived it--and because she can step back from it now and see it whole. --Ann Powers

Alice Echols is a professor of American studies and history at Rutgers University. A former disco DJ, she is the author of the acclaimed biography of Janis Joplin, Scars of Sweet Paradise.

General Fields

  • : 9780393066753
  • : W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
  • : W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
  • : 0.672
  • : September 2010
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Echols Alice
  • : Hardback
  • : 288