A discotheque can be described as a mutual combination of two words, ‘a musical record’ and ‘a library’. In other words, it is a music library, with a history that can be drawn some 60 years back in France. A discotheque is basically an entertainment venue or club where Disc Jockeys play recorded music through a PA system, rather than an on-stage band. Discotheques were not the first places where disco was played. They were bars and nightclubs where live American band artists played jazz for entertainment. Adolf Hitler can be considered responsible for the origin of disco, since American-style jazz was prohibited in war torn France during 1930s and 1940s. When the Germans occupied France, the jazz clubs went underground. And discotheques were born. To know more on interesting and amazing information on the origin and background of discotheque, explore the article further.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Discotheque
Discotheques originated in occupied Paris during World War II, when the Nazi Germans banned jazz and closed down many dance clubs and thus, many groups broke up. Until then, Paris nightclubs had premier American Jazz hosts. Black American jazz musicians, Arthur Briggs, Dexter Gordon, Benny Carter and dancer Josephine Baker (nicknamed as “Le Jazz Hot”) served Paris with jazz. Many Black expatriates returned home with the rise of Nazis throughout Europe. Shutting down vibrant cabaret society and nightlife jazz was the first thing on the Nazis’ list. Black and Jewish musicians from America, playing jazz, came as the most glaring offense to Hitler’s vision of “Pure Society”. With the French Renaissance, jazz soon came back & became the theme of French Resistance.
New clubs and bars started literally underground. Late-night basement parties were run that included the use of passwords, memberships and rotating locations. With this, the new form of a nightclub called “discotheque” was born. Performing live acts at known venues was risky. Rather, the latest jazz records from the United States were eagerly awaited for this new underground entertainment. They were brought into Paris by dodging bullets and Nazi checkpoints. Soon, recorded music overtook the live music. The first discotheque “Le Discotheque” came into existence in 1941, as an underground bar dedicated only to jazz records. They were a solace and refuge to dusty Resistance fighters, sympathizers and dancers.
Though the early discotheques did not comprise of extravagant venues, they were surely a cozy hovel, serving stiff drinks, good music and renegade opinion. In 1944, jazz flowed freely, as liquor and clubs became bigger, better and a bit snobbier. The New Paris was all about sound and vision. In the year 1947, discotheque and American liquor together formed the first real lush lounge, the Whiskey au Go-Go, all praise to Paul Pacine’s love for jazz records. This lounge attracted large crowds of dancers, since it featured the latest American jazz and spirits. Soon, an exclusive late-night Chez Castel opened for VIPs, with an invitation-only policy.
During the same reign in Jim Crew South, African-American laborers transformed the 1889 edition phonograph machine into a “Jukebox”, which became the first tool for wide scale distribution and appropriation of independent black music. National and local records could be loaded on these boxes once pressed. Music produces by the Blacks was tagged as “race records”, due to segregation and cultural mores at that time. Networks and radio owned by the Whites refused to play the ethnically ambiguous records even those of Italians until the 1950s. However, jukeboxes served as the distribution and promotion medium. This gave rise to developing disco music for the discotheques in the years that followed.
In the late 1970s, discotheques, nightclubs and private loft parties thrived in many major US cities, where PA systems were used by DJs. While some clubs went ahead with using light organs that converted audio signals into colored lights throbbing to the beat of the music, some of them had glass dance floors with colored lights. Dance schools and disco dance instructors also became popular around this time, teaching people various disco dances like the “touch dancing”, the “hustle” and the “cha cha”. Next, dress codes came into being for the discotheque-goers.
With time, the disco got converted as a regular night-out point for many people. The 1970s discotheques had cocaine-filled celebrity hangouts, balconies famous for sexual encounters and drug use was extensive. Some famous discotheques included Manhattan’s Studio 54, the Loft, the Paradise Garage and Aux Puces (one of the first gay disco bars). The term discotheque has now been replaced with nightclub in the United States since the mid-1980s. In Britain, a disco can be seen as a one-off night of dancing and music arranged by a non-professional DJ at an institution like a school or at a workplace.