Loving the Nightlife (Disco ‘Round) – By Jay Maxwell

March 18, 2013 by Jay Maxwell

The Sound of Studio 54 Keeps on Spinning

Normally the inspiration for my articles does not come from sitting in my favorite chair at home reading a book. But the idea for this issue’s list was born while my wife Donna and I were enjoying some quite time one evening immersed in the pages of some great literature. Before you begin to wonder what author sparked my idea, I have to admit, it had absolutely nothing to do with the text.

DEAD DISC DISASTER

It all started when her phone rang and the conversation that she was having with one of her best friends distracted me enough to stop reading and listen as my wife excitedly spoke with her friend. Though I’m well aware that it’s rude to eves drop, I initially thought that the phone call might have been an emergency situation due to the inflection in Donna’s voice. Once the laughter started and seemed to break up the flow of the conversation, I realized the call was not serious, and she whispered to me that it was Cheryl on the phone. It didn’t seem possible at first, but from over ten feet away, I could clearly hear Cheryl’s laughter. My assumption was that she was calling from a party and was telling my wife what a great time they were having, but that turned out not to be the case at all. Cheryl and a group of her friends had just finished a great meal at a downtown restaurant and were now jamming in their car to a disco CD that they had listened to for years.

Here’s where the story gets interesting; this group of ladies had played this particular CD every time they had gone out together for so long that the disc was literally worn out. Regardless of whose car they were driving, they would make sure that this one copy of the disco CD was in hand and ready to be played when they drove to and from their destination. However, the reason that Cheryl called my wife and was laughing so hard was that the CD was skipping on practically every song;  they could not finish singing along to a song before having to jump to the next song. It was frustrating them, but luckily they found the humor in the situation. They knew the reason the tracks were skipping was because they had literally played the CD to death.

MIXMASTER TO THE RESCUE

There were two things that I wanted to do. One was to find out what songs were on this CD that were so good that this group of ladies passed this one disc around, and it was always a requirement for any outing—for many years. Second, I wanted to burn the songs to a brand new disc so that they could again enjoy these tunes without the annoyance of interruptions in the music. Since I am a DJ with a large music library, I assumed that finding the tracks wouldn’t present a problem

When my wife brought me the CD from her friend, I was surprised that it would play at all, in any player. The case for the CD must have been lost years ago and the label was barely legible. Worse, of course, was the playable side of the disc that was scratched and marred from years of play and transfers. When I saw what songs were on the CD though, I realized why this CD had always accompanied these ladies. Every track was an awesome party song. All eighteen tracks were dynamite selections and ones that I had played many times at parties. Instead of just making one replacement CD, I decided to make one for Cheryl and also one for each of her friends. Each one had the original eighteen songs along with two different disco songs to make a twenty song collection. This way, all future girls’ nights out would be slightly different depending on whose car they were taking.

When I think about creating a great party, I typically don’t think about spinning tunes in a car with only six women ready to boogie. But the songs that had caused them to sing, shout, and feel like teens again were the same hits I had played countless times in the past thirty years that packed dance floors. Regardless of the average age of the guests, these songs are almost always a part of the dance menu. Similar to chess, where it is common for the same standard opening moves to begin each game (like moving the king’s pawn two spaces), some of the songs in the top of this issue’s list almost always start my dance set. My rule is, when in doubt, start the night with KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes” or the time-honored, Kool & the Gang’s signature smash, “Celebration.” It would be a rare night indeed if sometime during the event, especially a wedding reception, that “We Are Family” or “Play That Funky Music” didn’t end up getting people on the dance floor.

The list itself contains 54 songs to give tribute to perhaps the most famous nightclub in the world, Studio 54. From 1977 to 1981 this Manhattan club was synonymous with nightlife to the beat of disco music. In my vinyl collection from my early years, I possess an “As Seen on Television” double album called A Night at Studio 54. Not that I was a personal fan of disco music when it first become popular, but this album served me well in my beginning stages of a mobile DJ, since it had two LPs of some of the best disco songs around—including the inspiration for this issue’s title, I Love the Night Life (Disco ‘Round) by Alicia Bridges. As in nearly every article, the songs are listed in the order of most requested by our research. The only exception is the 54th song. It actually ranks at number 25, but it’s there to remind us that we should not wait until the “Last Dance” to throw down cool grooves from the ‘70s. We should in fact play some of these boogie wonders before someone yells at us to “Play Something We Can Dance To!”

Studio 54: Disco Classics

1 BOOGIE SHOES KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND
2 CELEBRATION KOOL & THE GANG
3 DANCING QUEEN ABBA
4 PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC WILD CHERRY
5 DECEMBER ‘63 (OH WHAT A NIGHT) FOUR SEASONS
6 STAYIN’ ALIVE BEE GEES
7 Y.M.C.A. VILLAGE PEOPLE
8 WE ARE FAMILY SISTER SLEDGE
9 GET DOWN TONIGHT KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND
10 SEPTEMBER EARTH, WIND & FIRE
11 SHAKE YOUR GROOVE THING PEACHES & HERB
12 I WILL SURVIVE GLORIA GAYNOR
13 FUNKYTOWN LIPPS INC.
14 YOU DROPPED A BOMB ON ME GAP BAND
15 IT’S RAINING MEN WEATHER GIRLS
(For the rest of Jay’s list, check out Mobile Beat online or in print!)
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Jay Maxwell Jay Maxwell (29 Posts)

Mobile Beat’s resident musicologist since 1992 (issue #11), Jay Maxwell runs the multi-talent entertainment company, Jay Maxwell’s Music by Request, LLC, in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a professor of Business at Charleston Southern University. His passion for detail and continuous research of clients’ requests can be found not only in this column, but also in his annually updated music guide, Play Something We Can Dance To.


Filed Under: Exclusive Online News and Content, Issue #148, Music