PBS will be airing a three-part docuseries titled “DISCO: SOUNDTRACK OF A REVOLUTION” that delves into the history of disco, the popular music genre of the 1970s. The series aims to capture the rise, fall, and legacy of disco, showcasing its roots in New York City and its impact on LGBTQ+ identity and female empowerment.

The first episode, titled “Rock the Boat,” explores how disco emerged as a desire for inclusion, visibility, and freedom among persecuted Black, gay, and minority ethnic communities in New York City. It highlights the pioneers of disco such as DJs David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Francis Grasso, and musician Earl Young (The Trammps) who created a distinct sound and revolutionized record spinning.

The second episode, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” takes viewers to the mid-’70s when disco reached its peak against the backdrop of Black power and sexual liberation. It showcases how disco turned Black women and gay men into superstars and icons while fusing Black Power with a call for sexual freedom. However, as mainstream success embraced disco further away from its roots of inclusivity and freedom, it became co-opted by straight white men.

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The final episode, “Stayin’ Alive,” reveals the backlash faced by disco from white middle Americans who targeted it for its hedonism, femininity, and queerness. The infamous “Disco Demolition Derby” at Comiskey Park Stadium in Chicago symbolizes this resentment towards disco. Additionally, the AIDS crisis pushed disco out of the mainstream. However, pioneers like Frankie Knuckles kept disco alive as it evolved into electronic dance music.

The docuseries features interviews with original musicians, promoters, innovators of disco as well as modern-day musical icons such as Nona Hendryx, Thelma Houston, George McCrae along with others.

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“DISCO: SOUNDTRACK OF A REVOLUTION” is a BBC Studios Production for PBS and BBC. It is produced and directed by Louise Lockwood and Shianne Brown, with Catherine Abbott serving as series producer. The executive producing team includes Alexander Leith and Anna Sadowy. The series has been commissioned by Rachel Davies for the BBC.

The series offers a powerful, revisionist history of disco that explores its cultural significance beyond just music, addressing important issues of identity, liberation movements, and social change. “DISCO: SOUNDTRACK OF A REVOLUTION” will premiere on Tuesday, June 18th on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS App.

Well hello there! I'm the guy who heads the content team at Memorable TV. I've an obsession for film and TV, and a stash of vintage TV magazines plus a wealth of knowledge on all things 1970's. But shh, let's keep that just between us!