This past Sunday was the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion which marked the beginning of the Gay Rights movement. In 1969 New York (as in most of the US) it was illegal for gay and lesbian people to do much of anything. You could be locked up for dancing with someone of the same sex, wearing women’s clothing (if you were a man), wearing men’s clothing (if you were a woman: according to the Public Morals Squad you had to wear 3 pieces of feminine clothing) or do anything else that one might want to do as a rational adult. The only clubs for gays and lesbians in the city were illegal bars and the most popular- The Stonewall Inn -was run by the mafia.
On June 28, 1969 NYC cops and the Public Morals Squad (sounds like something out of 1984, huh?) raided the Stonewall. Places like this had been raided before (the Stonewall was raided once the week before) but what happened after the raid began was anything but ordinary. As the patrons were kicked out they didn’t leave. They congregated outside and a crowd of passers-by and bar patrons began to congeal. And they were pissed.
This wikipedia article here gives a much better play-by-play of the night and what followed than I can possibly do, so read it to find out what happened next. I can tell you this: the cops didn’t expect a bunch of queens to fight so hard. And overturn cars. And do kicklines in the face of waves of riot cops.
Less than a year later David Mancuso held his first party in his apartment, what was later to be christened The Loft. In the wake of Stonewall The Loft was the perfect place for people to be themselves. It didn’t matter what you did in the privacy of Mancuso’s home, you were safe. And while you were being yourself he played you his favorite dance tracks on the best stereo system in the city. Here Disco was born. And it was born from the gay community in the wake of Stonewall. And if you think you don’t like disco you may like some of the music it laid the groundwork for. Every style of DJ music owes an enormous debt to Disco. Hip Hop borrowed beats from it and got it’s start in Disco clubs as well as on the block and in the parks. Below the jump are some of my favorite Disco tracks. I also uploaded an early 80’s Disco mix that I found that has Disco songs mixed in with the genres it influenced: Hip Hop, Electro, Hi NRG, Synth Pop. Enjoy!