“There’s an undercurrent of hatred for disco,” said the much-despised shock jock Steve Dahl, infamous for starting Chicago’s Disco Demolition in Comiskey Park.

In a publicity stunt concocted the summer of 1979 during a Chicago White Sox game against the Detroit Tigers, Steve Dahl encouraged everyone to bring their Disco records in order to destroy them. Dahl blew up the records to a cacophony of “Disco Sucks!” inciting chaos and mayhem amongst the crowd. Some of the 50,000 fans in the packed Comiskey Park stormed the field, creating a near riot. They were eventually dispersed by Chicago riot police and the second game was forfeited to Detroit.

The event was perfectly summed up by Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh, who called the mayhem “Your most paranoid fantasy about where the ethnic cleansing of the rock radio could ultimately lead… White males, eighteen to thirty-four are the most likely to see Disco as the product of homosexuals, blacks and Latins, and therefore they’re the most likely to respond to appeals to wipe out such threats to their security.”

“I firmly believe that sports and music should bring people together instead of trying to demolish a part of our culture and the people supporting it.”

Forty years later, the Chicago White Sox will memorialize this unfortunate incident in Chicago’s musical (and sports) history. This Thursday June 13th, Steve Dahl has been invited to throw out the first pitch when the White Sox play the New York Yankees.

And to coincide with their “Free T-Shirt Thursday”, 10,000 Disco-Demolition themed shirts will be handed out to the first people to show up. The legend at the bottom reads “The Night That Records Were Broken.”

For a city that birthed House music, we should not be “celebrating” such a tasteless and divisive event in our history.

Here is an open letter written by a good friend and producer from Chicago, Giovanni Taverna. Below his letter is the White Sox’s PR-friendly, rote response. We encourage everyone who feels strongly about this to to write the White Sox at fanfeedback@chisox.com.


Dear White Sox Organization,

I’ve read that on June 13th you will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Disco Demolition night, a shameful episode in your glorious history. As a fan, I’m disappointed that you have chosen to celebrate something to forget. As an old fan of Disco music, as well as a father of two black girls, I’m outraged by the fact your team will be once again associated to the racist and homophobic attitude of that night in 1979 when an entire culture so important for Chicago was violently attacked.

During this summer, your team will celebrate various positive things in our society. The only thing you have decided to “demolish” is Disco music, a form of art whose positive and progressive influence on American society is still so crucial nowadays (from music to dance, from visual art to movies, from civil rights to liberation).

“All of this will happen a few steps from the Progressive Baptist Church where in 2014 the life of Frankie Knuckles was celebrated: one of the most prominent figures of Disco / House Music whose contribution to our culture was even remembered with a letter from President Obama.”

If you are following the debate on social media, you will notice your celebration night of June 13th is already working as a whistle blower for the so called “alt-right” to reminisce the “good old days” when something like that could be organized without being called racist and homophobic by “liberals”. Despite some backward steps we are seeing in our society, I won’t stay silent about this celebration which once again will disrespect the culture of that part of society wrongly considered minority and consequently not mattering or even “demolishable”.

The fact you will even distribute 10,000 free t-shirts celebrating Disco Demolition risks to spread a dangerous message of hate and discrimination outside of the ballpark. All of this will happen a few steps from the Progressive Baptist Church where in 2014 the life of Frankie Knuckles was celebrated: one of the most prominent figures of Disco / House Music whose contribution to our culture was even remembered with a letter from President Obama.

I firmly believe that sports and music should bring people together instead of trying to demolish a part of our culture and the people supporting it; for this reason I’m asking you to cancel the Disco Demolition celebration you have scheduled on June 13th.

Best regards,
Giovanni Taverna


The White Sox’s response:

Hello Giovanni,
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. We will review your comments with our front office leadership in consideration with the execution of the promotion. The White Sox organization strives to promote a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, creating important initiatives to advocate for diversity and inclusion, such as our BasebALL: One Game for All efforts, and through theme nights that celebrate all communities. We hope to promote a positive ballpark experience for all that is consistent with the spirit of the game. We appreciate your feedback.”


  1. Basically the whole thing was an embarrassment. Dance music continued to grow, developing into House Music and Electronica. All you need to know is the following year one of the biggest hits was ‘D.I.S.C.O’ by Ottowan.

  2. This is rediculous! Disco turned into house, then EDM. It never went anywhere, it just progressed into today’s dance music under another name. The White Sox should find something better to do with their time!

  3. This is another case of much ado about nothing.
    This was never about race and to say it is – well – that’s trying to stoke a fire that isn’t there.
    It is a sad day when peoeple are called racist because they like certain kind of music.

  4. Disliking disco does not equate to homophobia or racism. It’s a music genre. Rock is also a music genre. There are people of all races and orientations that like both genres.

    I did not even know that disco was supposed to be associated with minority groups until I read this article. I thought disco was a music genre for everyone and anyone who liked it, not representative of anyone in particular..

    If you’re suggesting disco represents minorities and homosexuals, then are you suggesting rock music is supposed to be straight and white? That seems wrong to me. Some of the best rock and rollers of all time were not white or straight..

    • Brendan – what the article is suggesting is EXACTLY what happened. Rock music WAS supposed to be straight and white. Disco was absolutely called “gay” music –– heck, it was! The whole point was that the dance floor was the place you could escape the violence and oppression you faced in live, to be free — and the “Disco sucks” movement was absolutely borne of racism and homophobia. I lived through it. As for what happened a decade later when House music broke, I totally recommend the amazing documentary PARIS IS BURNING on Netflix, it shows how all of this came from the intersection of black and gay culture, people who were thrown out of their homes. But it’s a super fun movie :))

  5. I fully support the LGBTQ community and its causes. And, yes, as a musician, I’ll verify that disco truly DOES suck. One has NOTHING to do with the other.

    • Like Destiny Richardson, I too am a liberal musician who supports LGBT and Anti-Racist causes. Long ago, I realized that Disco was “not for me,” but not to piss on the people who love it.

      Looking back 40 years, I was a naive 14-year-old who was clueless about the LGBT element in Disco. I simply disliked Disco because it wasn’t Chuck Berry, Little Richard, or Fats Domino-styled Rock ‘n’ Roll. I may have applauded the “Disco Demolition” for the next 30 years, but now I see the real motivation, and I have no respect for it.

      The sort of people who blew up disco records in 1979 would have been the same type smashing Little Richard or Chuck Berry 78’s in 1956.

  6. the people who say disco sucks. probably never heard good disco. but the stuff played on the radio. you needed to be inside a good club. with the right people. studio 54 was not disco. but a scene. do some reasearch about the paradise garage, the warehouse in chicago. etc. you dont have to like it. but imagine today. at some football game, we decided to blow of 50k rap cds. now a lot of people hate rap. but its still been more popular than rock for the past 30 years. it would NOT be allowed to happen. and damn right would appear racist

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