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Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco
     

Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco

by Shapiro
 

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A long-overdue paean to the predominant musical form of the 70s and a thoughtful exploration of the culture that spawned it

Disco may be the most universally derided musical form to come about in the past forty years. Yet, like its pop cultural peers punk and hip hop, it was born of a period of profound social and economic upheaval. In Turn the Beat Around

Overview

A long-overdue paean to the predominant musical form of the 70s and a thoughtful exploration of the culture that spawned it

Disco may be the most universally derided musical form to come about in the past forty years. Yet, like its pop cultural peers punk and hip hop, it was born of a period of profound social and economic upheaval. In Turn the Beat Around, critic and journalist Peter Shapiro traces the history of disco music and culture. From the outset, disco was essentially a shotgun marriage between a newly out and proud gay sexuality and the first generation of post-civil rights African Americans, all to the serenade of the recently developed synthesizer. Shapiro maps out these converging influences, as well as disco's cultural antecedents in Europe, looks at the history of DJing, explores the mainstream disco craze at it's apex, and details the long shadow cast by disco's performers and devotees on today's musical landscape.

One part cultural study, one part urban history, and one part glitter-pop confection, Turn the Beat Around is the most comprehensive study of the Me Generation to date.

Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
To its detractors, disco was nothing but a pageant of glitter and Ultrasuede, but Shapiro’s history emphasizes its roots in nineteen-seventies New York, where hippie idealism had given way to stagflation and gang warfare. While the city decayed, marginal communities—gays, blacks, Latinos—congregated in abandoned warehouses to commune on makeshift dance floors. Shapiro argues that disco was “glamour as defiance,” a movement that promoted racial integration and aided the mainstreaming of homosexuality. His book ranges widely, from Nazi Germany, where Swing Jugend (proto-discogoers, in Shapiro’s view) met covertly to dance to “degenerate” jazz, to the rooftops of the Bronx, where Latino gangs did the hustle. This dance step, curiously, found favor with the conservative columnist William Safire, because it required a partner, and thus responsibility.
Library Journal - Library Journal
This book's deceptively salacious subtitle will lead many an E! network watcher to believe that music writer Shapiro (The Rough Guide to Hip-Hop) is going to spill the beans on who did who and in what VIP room. But the gossip-minded are going to leave this book a little disappointed, for Shapiro has performed a near-miracle in rescuing one of the most mocked musical genres of the 20th century from the clutches of the Village People, Zodiac medallions, and Studio 54's velvet rope. Disco, he argues, was democracy and revolution coupled with ecstatic celebration; the bodies on the dance floor became the stars and the tastemakers of a never-ending party, a "polymorphous, polyracial, polysexual mass affirming its bonds in a space beyond the reach of church, state or family." Shapiro traces disco as far back as the swing kids in Nazi-occupied France, all the way to its supposed death in Chicago's "disco riots" and triumphant reemergence in myriad strains of house, hip-hop, and postpunk squall. Previously, disco was covered only in frothy pictures books and all-too-brief tomes (e.g., John-Manuel Andriote's Hot Stuff); this audacious and engrossing book is the definitive record. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.-Matthew Moyer, Jacksonville P.L., FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780571211944
Publisher:
Faber and Faber
Publication date:
06/01/2005
Pages:
384

Meet the Author

Peter Shapiro's writing on music has appeared in Spin, Vibe, The Wire, and The Times (London). He is the author of the Rough Guides to, respectively, Hip-Hop, Essential Soul, and Drum 'N' Bass.

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