Disco’s Deeper Meaning

February 18, 2011 – Show Note: Today we’re rebroadcasting this show. Join the conversation with comments in the comment section below – but no calls please! Many thanks.

Singer Donna Summer in 1979. (AP)

They say disco is coming back, with Lady Gaga and Kesha up on the charts. For those who lived through the first disco fever, that may mean a cringe, or a smile.

Disco was a love it or hate it affair. But everybody danced.

Historian Alice Echols says it was more than glitter balls. Disco, she argues, opened up American culture for gays, for blacks, for women.

This hour, On Point: we’re looking back at disco with Echols and disco queen, Donna Summer.


Alice Echols, professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. Her new book is “Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture.”

Donna Summer, the 5-time Grammy Award-winning “Queen of Disco.”  Her latest album is “Crayons.”

Web Extras:

Read an excerpt from “Hot Stuff.”

See Alice’s playlist of dance-floor favorites.

Hear some of Donna Summer’s new work.

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