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DISCO INFERNI


Kitty Hanson
Disco Fever
NEL, London, 1978
1.25, 240 pages
click to enlarge click to enlarge Vita Miezitis
Night Dancin'
Ballantine Books, New York, 1980
$9.95, 220 pages
click to enlarge
Let's Disco!
K-Tel, USA, 1978
$9.95, 220 pages
click to enlarge
Andy Blackford
Disco Dancing Tonight
Octopus, London, 1979
80 pages


Disco. It is - allegedly - where the happy people go. But short of finding some happy people and following them around for the evening, how you gonna know where to be? What you need is a copy of 1980's Night Dancin' in which Vita Miezitis and Bill Bernstein take you round a whole host of New York nightspots, illustrating each with some top photos of each and details of who goes there, what they pay to get in and what they get up to when they're inside. As a snapshot of the decadent era when disco had passed from its healthy underground days into full-on US corporate industry, it's invaluable.

If you click here, you can see some of the photos.

But what to do when you've found your ideal discotheque? You'll be wanting to dance, of course. And that's where K-Tel's book comes in handy, with a complete set of steps and illustrative photos of the key routines: the Four Step Hustle, the New York Bus Stop, the Camelwalk, the Latin Hustle and the rest. Unless you want to dance, however, this is a complete waste of time, with scarcely even any kitsch value.

Existing between these two - nay, straddling the two - is Kitty Hanson's little paperback which, frankly, is a complete mess. There are brief sections on everything Hanson can think of: specific clubs, singers, how to make your own disco clothes and Do's and Don'ts for Surviving a Disco Night Out. In the end you get worn down, and the sheer thrown-together chaos of it all becomes quite entertaining, with some fascinating insights, such as this contribution from psychologist Dr Albert Ellis:

There is some sex implied in [disco dancing], but it's not a social sex urge. There is some stimulation from the dance, but I don't believe it often leads to consummation. They must be too tired. (p.67)

A curious artefact of the era, this suffers only from being exclusively American, and from the terrible quality of the photos:

Miss Eartha Kitt
Earth Kitt at Xenon

It compensates by promising on the back that it'll teach you 'How to play those sex/nudity/fantasy games.' (It won't.)

And finally, here comes Andy Blackford's opus, which attempts to cover all bases with accounts of key New York nite-spots, steps for the Spanish Hustle and the Pole Dance and a history of the genre. Far too much ground to get over in just 80 pages, of course, but there are compensations, most notably the fact that it's British and mentions our own dance teams: 'More often than not, Legs and Co. come across as dancing dolly birds wound up out of time,' it thunders. And best of all it does have a photo of those forgotten dancers of Top of the Pops, Ruby Flipper:

Ruby Flipper
some of Ruby Flipper


wanna see some disco debauchery?
more stuff about the early days of disco on our sister site:
a 70s popumentary

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