Disco – an educational warning from 1981

Welcome back to Retro Culture. It has been a while, due to courses and field studies in postmodernism in Victorian museums in London. But back at office I want to share an object found in the deep storage of the library: “Disco-Kulturen” by Bent Pedersbæk Hansen, an edition of a series of educational booklets published by the association of Danish teachers in 1981. (Dansklærerforeningen).


“The world is gone crazy. In disco”. This is the alarming condition for the long haired teacher generation of “bongo-patter” (‘bongo tits’: slang word from the book meaning “the prototype of teachers wearing purple velvet trousers, a pink t-shirt and a colored napper on the head” / “Den prototype af pædagoger, der går med lilla fløjlsbukser, lyserød T-shirt og en farvet ble om håret. Og på fødderne et par solide fodformede sko”).

Thus this booklet that turns out to be a consciousness awakening warning against the artificial disco and its artificial needs. “Disco is not just entertainment. It is escapism” (p. 3). “Disco is not for the head. It is not about social lyrics, that one needs to think about .. The relaxing music is syrup for the eardrums at the party. To your party there must be disco – who dares to host a party without SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER on the turntable. Or maybe DON’T YA THINK I’M SEXY with Rod Stewart that has also become a ‘disco-drønert’..”

This is followed by interviews with teenagers spending all their money on clothes and hairdressing. And the ultimate warning: John Travolta only gets a minor part of the income of the disco industry! “There should be problems enough to adress”, as the good teachers state.
Lukily, they suggest an alternative. In the end Pink Floyd is mentioned as “ambitious and original music” that is “living all the time. “This is “good music””. The bongo tits have talked!

From the perspective of today, disco is a remarkably silent youth culture that has not been discussed with the idleness of punk, hiphop or any new phenomena that quickly gets reckonized as a new object of study. Hurrah, says the cultural studies community immediately. They did not with disco.
At the same time it must be said, that disco and its many offsprings gets an intensive connoiseur, collector and revival fashion attention nowadays. Just see the many elaborate outings as the Disco Discharge series, the Horse Meat Disco or, if I may confess my latest purchase: “Disco Deutschland Disco. Soul, philly and disco from Germany, 1975-1980″.

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