Let’s congratulate ourselves for a moment people, one thing St. Louis does really really well is rock; this city oozes rock n’ roll swag. Kids from the sprawling outer counties all the way in to the burgeoning South City scene can get their fill of local and touring guitar heroes almost any night of the week in the numerous hallowed halls that constitute St. Louis’ musical ecosystem. Surely the pride in our six stringed swooners should not bring us any shame, but in order to cultivate well rounded musical scenes and tastes, there needs to be a counter-balance. Yes, what I’m suggesting is that perhaps because of our fiercely entrenched affinity for rock, we may fail to consider the important contributions and fun of *gasp* dance music.
A trip to any of St. Louis’ many record stores – a keystone in any local music ecosystem – should make this imbalance fairly obvious, where dance and electronic music face either relegation to miniscule bins or wholesale neglect (save, perhaps, Apop, whose albeit small section is excused by a killer selection - be prepared to pay though). The bitter irony of this reality lies in the fact that the history of dance music is literally embedded in the 12” single, which, I should mention, would not even exist without the demands of club DJ’s from the 1970s.
So, what I’m going to do with this space is provide a weekly foray into the murky realms of dance music to clear the names of disco and house, and show that dance music need not only refer to the overly energetic, neon pacifier munching crowd that more often than not becomes the stereotypical face of the club scene. By digging deep in the crates of our local record purveyors i’ll excavate and post tracks that will keep the bodies at your weekend blowouts moving, while also shedding light on how these tracks fit into a larger musical narrative.
For the first installation of this series I’m calling “The Rewrite,” I present you with a stone cold dance floor classic: the instrumental version of John Rocca’s 1984 cut “I Want it to be Real” on Streetwise Records.
This song represents an important transition period in dance music. In the late 1970’s the proportion of quality of disco music quickly declined as the market was flooded with cheap and chintzy imitation tracks made in a feverish attempt to capitalize on the mainstream acceptance of disco following the success of “Saturday Night Fever.” Subsequently, this engendered a deep and steadfast disgust for the genre in the mind and hearts of white, middle-class rock fans, who felt disco privileged an inauthentic sense of masculinity (read: homosexual). The combination of an over-saturated market with a dedicated anti-disco movement (see the 1979 Disco Demolition at Cominsky Park) led to the fall of disco after 1979. With a lack of new material, many DJs turned to instrumental and dub cuts to push a new, more minimal sound that stayed true to the rhythmic roots of disco but with a significantly pared down sound. Dubs and instrumentals like Rocca’s “I Want it to be Real” provided the templates and sounds that would soon give birth to House music, disco’s dark revenge.
Positioned at an integral crossroads in the history of dance music, this track simultaneously looks to the past and the future, giving it an undeniable sound and dancabilty that combines the synths that would come to dominate dance music with the raw, tribalistic roots that motivated a decade of disco dancers.
I dug up this classic at The Record Exchange on South Hampton.
This entry was written by The ReWrite, Vinyl and tagged dance, disco, dub, i want it to be real, local, proto-house, record exchange, rewrite, rocca, vinyl. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink., posted on July 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm, filed under