The sun was not yet up. The cats were fed. The dogs made a trip outside and then ate. The Christmas lights were all turned on. The coffee was made and a cup of it was in my hand.
I settled down to my favorite weekend morning ritual: find a documentary to watch.
This morning, the documentary was, “Bee Gees: How to Mend a Broken Heart”.
I knew I was going to love this one. The Bee Gees bring back the happy parts of my childhood. They are part of a soundtrack that brings back singing, dancing and fun. Those moments are limited, but they are loud.
As I floated into the memories and watched the Gibb brothers’ lives play out in front of me, I was reminded of their contribution to music. I learned of the work it took to get to where they landed. I discovered their evolution from the 60s to the 70s to the 80s were not as easy as I had thought. I watched in wonder as I watched obstacles thrown up in front of them and saw how they jumped, crawled under and worked around them.
Then, the documentary flowed into a moment in history I had forgotten. Maybe it is because I’m an adult and not an 8-year old, but this time it really hit me hard.
It was July 12, 1979. A Chicago radio disc jokey named Steve Dahl had been trashing Disco music for some time. He had come up with a scheme, along side White Sox owner Bill Veeck, to get people to come to Comisky Park.
The scheme had a title: “Disco Demolition Night”. His fans filled Comisky Park, paying a low admission of $0.98 and a disco album. Between the double header that night, Dahl blew up disco records. Then, the fans stormed the field, threw firecrackers and bottles and vandalized the park.
Basically, the “fun” gimmick took a bad turn. I believe in karma. I think what you put out in the universe will come back to you. This night was a good example of that happening very quickly.
However, what struck me most about reliving this part of our history is not the stupidity of the crowd and organizers. What stood out to me was the power of hate.
In the documentary, Vince Lawrence, a music industry leader, points out that many of the records brought to the park were of black R&B artists, not disco artists. Others pointed out that it was largely the gay community who found joy in disco music. Disco was a huge part of gay nightclubs. This felt like an attack on those communities.
Watching the “Disco Demolition Night” unfold before me all over again made me realize something else.
There are people in this world that believe there isn’t enough space for all of us. For those who believe the space is limited, anyone that is different needs to leave.
On the radio and at the record stores, there was plenty of space for all types of music. However, in 1979, disco was taking up the most space. It had been the most popular for a few years. Rock fans were tired of this.
Instead of buying records, finding rock stations and ignoring disco, they decided there was not enough space. So, they were going to bully disco and get it to leave.
I know the 70s were different. We had fewer ways to listen to our music. I can imagine if you didn’t like disco, you had fewer ways to avoid it.
I remember, though, sitting in my tiny bedroom in our trailer home, listening to so many records. I listened to the radio too, especially when I wanted to record a song that was coming up. However, I was able to pick a record out to listen to it if I didn’t like what was on the radio. Plus, there were several stations dedicated to different types of music. I liked the one that played the Top 40: KZ 93!
My point is: We had, and continue to have, plenty of space.
You can probably guess, I’m talking about more than music.
We have so much space for people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, economic class, sexual orientation…. the list goes on.
I have never understood a hatred toward a certain group because they don’t have your color skin, or believe in the same book you do, or love the gender you think they should love.
Watching this documentary drummed that all back up. How is it people who are different in any way are a threat to you?
So, you don’t like disco. Who cares? Listen to Meatloaf if you want. No one is stopping you.
So, you are married to someone of the opposite sex. Why does it matter that another person is not? You keep being married to the person to whom you are married.
So another person has a different color skin as you. Is that really an attack on you?
You see a person who is originally from another country. What is it that makes you not want them to have opportunities for a good life?
I’ve been told my entire life that bullies are unhappy and they don’t want anyone else to be happy.
So much space…..