The story of Tony Manero

1882 Words8 Pages
The term disco often brings to mind, images of polyester suits, coordinated choreography and flashy disco balls. John Badham’s 1977 cinematic classic Saturday Night Fever capitalized on those images to help mainstream society relate to this growing subculture. John Travolta’s portrayal of Tony Manero, a down on his luck heterosexual male, who uses disco as a means of escape from his everyday life, helps to demonstrate Hollywood’s encroachment on this growing cultural phenomenon. What Badham’s film fails to explore is the history of disco; the influence that it had on underground society in the United States. The story of Tony Manero lacks the colourful history of this musical tradition. For example, the film does not explore the homosexual institutions from which disco arose. From the beginning, disco found a strong audience with the gay community. Gay-oriented bathhouses like New York’s Continental Baths were some of the first venues where disco tracks were spun. With this growing popularity, disco became more than a genre; it generated its own lifestyle. While disco music manifested itself in the heart of this growing lifestyle, it can be explored through “kinds of dancing, club, fashion, film-in a word, a certain sensibility, manifest in music, clubs and so forth, historically and culturally specific, economically, technologically, ideologically, and aesthetically determined.” This essay intends to prove that disco, both as a form of music and as a lifestyle, brought homosexuality “out of the closet” and helped to establish a visible gay subculture in the United States during the 1970’s by exploring how disco gave the gay community a place where they could unite as a people and how it presented them with an opportun... ... middle of paper ... ...ut in culture : gay, lesbian, and queer essays on popular culture, by Corey Creekmur and Alexander Doty, 407-415. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995. Hubbs, Nadine. "'I Will Survive': musical mappings of queer social space in a disco anthem." Popular Music, 2007: 231-244. Hughes, Walter. "In the Empire of the Beat." In Microphone fiends : youth music & youth culture , by Andrew Ross and Tricia Rose, 147-157. New York: Routledge, 1994. Lawrence, Tim. ""I Want to See All My Friends At Once": Arthur Russell and the Queering of Gay Disco." Journal of Popular Music Studies, 2006: 144-166. Morris, Mitchell. "Music and Musicians 2: Popular Music." In Gay histories and cultures : an encyclopedia, by George Haggerty, John Beynon and Douglas Eisner, 618-620. New York: Garland, 2000. Shapiro, Peter. Turn the Beat Around. New York: Faber and Faber, Inc, 2005.
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