1970s – Disco

Significant dances

The clear-cut rules of Disco’s couple and line dances grabbed everyone’s imagination after a decade of “trippy” head music. The new form encompassed romantic and acrobatic couple dancing as well as communal line dances. Disco was narcissistic and competitive, generating complex dance routines that required teaching and learning. From its roots in R&B nightclubs, disco exploded into a technological fantasy dance form employing strobe lights, mirrors, fog machines, and loud, prerecorded music, as epitomized in the movie Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta.

Historical context

  • US Presidents are Nixon and Carter.
  • Khmer Rouge commits genocide in Cambodia; Vietnam invades.
  • The Watergate erupts, resulting in Nixon impeachment.
  • Carter pardons draft evaders.
  • OPEC raises oil prices.
  • U.S. and USSR treaty bans nuclear weapons.
  • U.S. and East Germany resume diplomatic relations.
  • Violence escalates in North Ireland.
  • Indian and Pakistan are at war.


  • Updike, James Michener, Solzhenitsyn, Sam Shepard, Alex Haley, Edward Albee, and Neil Simon.


  • Stockhausen, Leonard Bernstein, Alwin Nikolais, David Bowie, Teddy Pendergrass, Bee Gees, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff.
  • Musicals: Jesus Christ Superstar, Annie, Grease, A Chorus Line.

Visual arts:

  • Conceptual Art
  • Films: A Clockwork Orange, The Godfather, Star Wars, Cabaret, and Saturday Night Fever.


  • First test-tube baby born.
  • Skylab orbits in space for a record 84 days.
  • Spacecraft land on Mars.

Daily life:

  • US Supreme Court legalizes abortion.
  • Cigarette ads are banned from TV amid health concerns.
  • Mother Teresa wins Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Terrorist acts of airplane high-jacking take place
  • Young Westerners wear platform shoes and bellbottom trousers.

Relevant Dancetime Publications DVDs

DANCETIME DVD! 500 YEARS OF SOCIAL DANCE, Volume II: 20th Century: Disco


GERMAN LINEAGE IN MODERN DANCE: Solos by Wigman * Hoyer * Holm * Nikolais * Louis

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