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1970 – 1980 New York Disco Culture and Fashion Lookbooks


In New York juxtapose of culture, nationality and language made young people pulse to beat with the music; small clubs appeared such as the Loft, Circus, Xenon and Paradise Garage in 1976.  Disco was made for dancing, and the traditional 7-inches vinyl grew to 12 inches as DJs mixed songs to make dancers absorb with the beat. In the early 1970s, the Gay movement and women’s liberation progressed, made people open up and proud. Village people, Grace Jones, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan and Bee Gees made disco popularity grew and together with one of the greatest musicals from last century Saturday Night fever made it massive. DJs and doormen became brand-new stars, and club cultures grow strong, when Studio 54 opens their doors in 1977, it soon became the playground for celebrities.


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Disco Roots and Inspiration

Disco music started in the club scene of NYC. Club DJs would play the song they would like, and the club patrons would go into the record stores to by those songs. The origin of disco music came from many different styles; a music constellation from Germany named Kraftwerk should be an early source of inspiration for black music as, they in the late 1960s explored brand new electronic instruments and however, strange it might sound their rhythm, and music was the perfect mix with black music to make the sound of disco.

Kraftwerk distinctive sound was revolutionary and has had a lasting effect across many genres of modern music; disco, hip hop and later the techno scene in Detroit and deep house. A German band from the early 70’s changed the way music sound. This German influence was further strengthened by the German electronic synth producer Giorgio Moroder; his record production made the sexy and dirty sound of Donna Summers 16 minutes breakthrough hit “love to love you, babe.” Together with the music of Motown Records, the party never ended.


Love Saves The Day, Cocaine The Night

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Drugs, sex, dance music, glamorous fashion and coke is the core disco ingredients 

Disco music sexy sound, sweaty dances, drinks and long nights invited for a hedonistic lifestyle, the woman liberation and gay movement grow strong and made a tremendous impact on fashion and nightlife. The new twelve-inch records spinning twenty minutes non-stop dancing required something else, people wanted to stay through the night and hardly change clothes before going from the club directly for work. The solution of 1960s marijuana, peace and love did not work out; downers were out, but uppers got it right. It did not take long before the drug cartels of Colombia found out that the money was in Cocaine and not marijuana as before. Drug culture revolution in the 1960s made the fresh and popular drugs cocaine and poppers accepted in all layers of the population; in the fashion aspects of the club scene, these drugs enhanced the experience of dancing to the loud music and the flashing lights. In particular, the new liberation of Gay culture expanded the borders of acceptable behaviour; rampant promiscuity and public sex took place around the dance floors’ central arena; in bathroom stalls, exit stairwells, and so on. The most famous symbol of decadence and hedonistic nightclubbing was a club that opened in Manhattan in 1977, named Studio 54.


Sex, Drugs and Studio 54

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Modern hedonism was born the day Bianca Jagger rode in on a white horse at during her birthday celebrations at Studio 54 in New York, May 1977. Studio 54 could never open their doors if it weren’t for trendsetting clubs that came to embody the pioneering spirit of disco The Gallery, Xenon, The Loft, and Paradise Garage made clubbing popular on a global scale and to open the vastly expensive studio in New York. The Loft was the first club that opened, Valentine’s Day 1970s hosted by the DJ David Mancuso. Studio 54 became a playground for cocaine celebrities, musicians, models, actors, tennis players and artist soon.

Studio 54

 The club operated by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager (later arrested for tax fraud) between 1977 -1980 recognized as the king of clubbing and probably the most hedonistic club since ancient times. It not possible to write about the disco culture without Studio 54. The stories are wild and many, however, on Bianca Jagger birthday she came riding on a white horse and trough the line of VIP guests into the disco. The sad thing the extreme party, dancefloor sex, Cocaine the night away, gay and woman liberation and AIDS indulgent part of culture destroy. The regular and religious people blamed the unknown factors on disco, the downfall and funeral as the city administration closed most clubs in 1980 due to the AIDS risk, Nevertheless, during the three-year-long party, the in-crowd snorted coke and danced the night away. Celebrities such as Bianca Jagger, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Diana Ross, Bjørn Borg, Donna Summers, and Grace Jones made media headlines; and the rumours foundation for modern club culture in Ibiza and elsewhere. The party was wild; however, nothing lasts forever; people died of AIDS in the late 1970s and exploded during the 80s. The unknown scared people and soon left the culture behind. Most disco clubs closed the same year after the campaign “disco sucks launched and made disco something from the past; the party was over


Elvis, Las Vegas, Kung Fu and Disco Fashion

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The result of this new music should soon be reflected in fashion. In Las Vegas, Elvis did three shows each night, his stage costumes mirrored his extravagant lifestyle; mixing karate moved into his dance performance and created a style-wise a crossover of Kung Fu wear, glitter, golden wide boxing belts, flares and glossy fabrics the resulted in a jumpsuit. Disco music was made for dancing, and therefore, fashion clothing became a mix of the late 1960s and early 1970s trends combined with stretchy and shiny fabrics like polyester. First of all, the stretch fabric was necessary because of recent dance moves that required space; Kung Fu movies inspired disco dancing was full of energy with high kicking legs. Secondly shiny and glitter pants and tops came as a result of the new lighting systems in the clubs; disco ball, strobe and even laser light required dancers to be seen.


Halston, Dian Von Furstenberg, Qiana

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Saturday Night Fever Made Disco Big Around The World

The film “Saturday Night Fever” starring John Travolta as the character Tony should more than any other source dictates disco. The film important culturewise such as other youth icons Elvis, James Dean and Marlon Brando in the 1950s. Rebelled the traditional style and became idols for a new generation of youngsters. Tony ruled the dance floor wearing a three-piece suit of polyester with matching waistcoat, there was nothing else that mattered styles. Jewellery, bracelets and medallions on the bare chest, the concepts were complete.


Hot Pants, Glitter and Wrap Dress

Hot pants were fashionable was one of the most liked fashions at the beginning of the 1970s. Hot pants were a kind of short, extremely tight and short; it could be worn any way possible. Another fashion was the wrap dress, seen in the movie “Saturday night fever,” introduced by Diane Von Furstenberg in 1972. This jersey stretch and polyester wrap dress combined with high knee boots or slingback sandals. Disco was synonymous with glamour, and glitter recognised basics any costume, glitter growth with 1970s glam music scene, and since used by the fashion industry in clothing due to the low production cost, and makeup as anything shines & sparkles smashing.


Disco DNA

WHEN: 1970 – 1980

 WHERE: New York

 CULTURE AND INFLUENCE: the gay pride revolution and woman’s liberation was an essential part of the rise of nightclubbing in NY, blacks and guy clubs.

 FASHION:

 DRESSES: wrap dress, catsuits, jumpsuits

 JEANS/PANTS: hipster jeans, bell-bottoms, flares, hot pants (girls)

 FABRICS: polyester, stretchy, shiny and reflecting structures for the night clubs light systems

 SHOES: Platform shoes, high knee boots, slingback sandals.

 SUNGLASSES: oversized glasses

 SHIRTS: extreme pointy collars, open shirts, prints, floral, shiny

 SKIRT: slit, mini, midi, maxi and a micro dress.

 SUITS: three-piece suits, white polyester with a matching waistcoat (John Travolta in the movie Saturday Night Fever)

 TOPS: Spandex, halter neck, silk blouses, spaghetti-strapped tank top, tube and silk blouses

 ACCESSORIES: big hats, feather boas, slinky scarfs, turbans, shiny bling jewellery, roller skates, costume jewellery, medallions and large handbags

 HAIRSTYLE: afro, facial hair, side burners, Long straight and flowing hair (girls), layered, glitter.

 COLOURS: white, silver, gold, black, vivid, floral patterns

 FILMS: Saturday Night Fever

 MEDIA: Top of the pops, Hustler and Playboy magazine

 DESIGNERS AND BRANDS: Vanderbilt, Fiorucci, Diane Von Furstenberg, Halston, Qiana

 PLACES: New York, nightclubs’ such as the Loft, Paradise Garage, Studio 54, The Gallery, Xenon

 CLUBS: Studio 54, The Loft and Sanctuary

 FAMOUS CLUBBERS: Bianca Jagger, John Travolta, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, Stallone, the list is long

 DRUGS: tons of Cocaine, poppers, 

 GADGETS: a disco ball, twelve-inch records, Strobe and laser light, roller skates

 IMPORTANT PEOPLE: doormen, DJ’s, drug dealers and night club owners

DANCE MOVES: Hick hike, the walk, knee drops

MUSIC: happy sound, disco, Motown

ARTISTS AND DJ: DJ David Mancuso (The Loft), Larry Levan (the Loft later Paradise Garage), Village People, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, Bee Gees, Chic, Sister Sledge, Tina Charles, Earth, Wind and Fire, Jackson’s, George McCrae, Carl Douglas, Thelma Houston, Sylvester, Eruption, Boney M

SONGS: “Love to Love you, babe,” “rock you babe,” “We are family,” “Le Freak,” “YMCA,” “In the navy,” “Clap your hands,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Kung Fu fighting,” “Don’t leave me this way,” “I can’t stand the rain”

ART: pop art, factory

ATTITUDE: flamboyant, outgoing, happy, decadent, hedonism, fashionable, multiethnic, self-confidence, prima donna, sexy, hot

FILM DOCUMENTARY: The Secret Disco Revolution, “When disco ruled the world” and other dance films such as Boogie Nights.

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