The Chaos of Disco Demolition Night

On July 12, 1979, the White Sox hosted Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park. The promotional event, however, resulted in chaos and a forfeited baseball game.

The once-popular music seemed to stir a lot of anger at the time. Even songs were written attacking disco. As many others have noted, the disco-hating trend of the late 1970s evolved out of a number of emotions.  Some of the hate came from those who consciously or subconsciously attacked the music out of racism and homophobia.

In retrospect, it is hard to imagine how a type of music went from being so popular to being so hated. In fact, the White Sox had hosted a “Disco Night” in 1977, only two years prior to the 1979 Disco Demolition Night.

The Disco Demolition Night Promotion

It is also surprising in retrospect that nobody foresaw how Disco Demolition Night would be such a disaster. The entire idea was based on hatred of something, culminating with blowing up something (records) between the two games of a double header with Sparky Anderson’s Detroit Tigers.

Steve Dahl, a morning DJ for rock station WLUP-FM, was on a campaign against disco music. As part of his campaign, he helped come up with the idea for the baseball promotion where he would blow up disco records on the field.

Dahl’s animosity was both deep and personal.  He had lost his job at WDAI-FM on Christmas Eve in 1978 when that station switched to an all-disco format.

As part of the promotion for the game, the cost of entry was 98-cents and a disco record.  Thus, there were many in the sold-out crowd who were not there for baseball.

After the chaos, Dahl was surprised at the crowd’s reaction.  But the notoriety of the event would help make him a dj superstar in Chicago.

This website hosts memories from folks who were at the stadium that night. And below is a short video about Disco Demolition Night.

The Effects Today

Regarding baseball, the event went into the record books.  The unplayed game between the White Sox and the Tigers is the last American League baseball game to be forfeited.

Regarding the music, others have noted that while disco was dealt a blow, it lives on successfully today in various forms such as house music. You can try to kill music with hate, but it will survive.

Do you remember Disco Demolition Night? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    2 thoughts on “The Chaos of Disco Demolition Night”

    1. It’s funny about disco. I think I was a little too young to know any better but I loved disco so much! At 10 years old I used to have these fights with my best friend about who was better, the Bee Gee’s or the Beatles, can you believe it?! Embarrassing!

      1. Although the Bee Gees weren’t the Beatles, they were very talented and made some great music (before, during, and after the disco era). So, don’t be too embarrassed. Thanks for the comment.

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