Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution

Three-part series shines a light on Disco’s groovy beginnings, greatest moments and devastating demise.

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PBS tackles the surprising and overlooked history of disco – the preeminent popular music of the 1970s – in a three-part series, DISCO: SOUNDTRACK OF A REVOLUTION.  The docuseries captures the story of disco: its rise, its fall, and its legacy. From the basement bars of ‘70s New York City to the peak of the global charts, along with iconic tracks and remarkable footage, DISCO: SOUNDTRACK OF A REVOLUTION offers a powerful, revisionist history of the disco age. Told by the original musicians, promoters, and innovators – as well as modern-day musical icons.

Disco embodied the height of 1970s glamour: a dance floor culture born in New York City that went on to take over the world. But its success also obscured its wider significance. Inextricably bound up with the major liberation movements of the 1970s, disco speaks to some of the biggest issues of today: LGBTQ+ identity and female empowerment.

“Charting disco from its inception and global domination to the violent attempts to end the genre, DISCO: SOUNDTRACK OF A REVOLUTION reclaims its roots,” said Sylvia Bugg, chief programming executive and general manager, general audience programming at PBS. “Before commercialization, discothèques belonged to the marginalized and the dispossessed, who tapped into the beat-driven music and the disco scene in a battle for community, identity, and inclusivity.”

Jonathan Rothery, head of popular music TV/commissioning editor, factual, at the BBC says: “There’s no doubt that DISCO had an enormous impact—not just on the musical landscape at the time of its emergence and far beyond, but as a social and cultural force for change. This documentary series from BBC Studios, which the BBC has supported together with PBS, will highlight many new or untold stories of the genre."

DISCO: SOUNDTRACK OF A REVOLUTION also underscores disco’s survival. Co-opted by the commercial mainstream, the genre dominated and flooded the market – the airwaves and record shops – leading to a subsequent hate-fueled backlash. As a result, the music and its ethos went back underground, where it evolved into an electronic dance sound that laid the foundations for contemporary dance culture.

All episodes of the series are available free now on the PBS App.

 

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