A bounty from the Internet! Some outstanding personage has uploaded the entire broadcast of the WSNS Channel 44 Chicago broadcast of the July 12, 1979, double-header between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers, better known to you as “Disco Demolition Night,” a promotion spearheaded by DJ Steve Dahl at Chicago rock station WLUP. The event notoriously became a single-header after the second game had to be canceled because of the mayhem brought upon by the antics of the mostly white audience of rowdy rock music lovers.
On that day, disco-haters were enticed by inexpensive admission (98 cents and a disco record to add to the pile) to come out in droves. The gimmick was that between the two games, a large box containing hundreds of disco records would be blown up. Some time earlier, Dahl had lost his job after WDAI switched to a disco format, which inordinately pissed him off, and he turned that ire into a big part of his schtick at WLUP, and eventually the idea for “Disco Demolition Night” was born. In the event, the large crowd was full of rowdy stoners who didn’t give a hoot about baseball and just wanted to heap scorn on disco music. The detonation of the disco records had the double effect of rendering the field unusable and causing the throngs to descend into truly lawless chaos.
The uploaded video is nearly three and a half hours long. It shows the entire first (and, it turned out, only) game of the twin bill, in which the visiting Tigers defeated the hometown White Sox 4-1. By the way, Harry Caray, who later became a national icon for his work with the crosstown Cubs, was a White Sox employee at this time, and he is one of the announcers calling the action. (In fact, Caray’s true mark on baseball history came decades earlier, during his quarter-century of radio broadcasting for the St. Louis Cardinals.)
Moments after hundreds of disco records were exploded in center field
As Slate’s Matthew Dessem astutely points out, the tone of the day’s action was set early on, during the National Anthem, during which a fan’s cry of “Faggot!” can clearly be heard (it’s at the 6:44 mark).
In retrospect, the spasm of hatred directed towards a pleasure-oriented music genre that was inclusive in terms of African-Americans, Latinos, and homosexuals seems positively Trumpist in spirit. The United States is the only country that has had a strong “anti-disco” movement. I like the Allman Brothers and Black Sabbath as much as the next music lover, but you know, enough’s enough.
We looked at this memorable event three years ago but there was hardly any footage available at that time. If you love baseball, classic rock, disco, or drug-fueled mayhem, you’ll likely find something fascinating to watch here.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Disco Sucks: Relive the madness of ‘Disco Demolition Night’ in Chicago’s Comiskey Park, 1979