By Brian Ives
Just over 35 years after the controversial “Disco Demoliton Night” was held on July 12, 1979, at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, the sequel is being planned for this weekend, albeit at a minor league stadium.
Mike Veeck, son of late baseball team owner and promotion whiz Bill Veeck, has announced “Disco Demolition Night 2: You Better Belieb It” at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, the home stadium of New York Yankees farm team the Charleston RiverDogs. The event will take place this Saturday, July 19. Mike Veeck was the Chicago White Sox’s promotions director in 1979 (when his father was the team’s owner), and helped to organize the original “Disco Demolition Night.”
This weekend’s event will allow any fan who shows up donating a Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus album (or merchandise associated with either act) $1 admission; the Bieber and Cyrus swag will be demolished after the game.
“Like so many, we have taken special exception to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus’s music along with his numerous run-ins with the law and her controversial performances,” said RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols. “‘Disco Demolition 2’ is dedicated to the eradication of their dread musical disease, like the original ‘Disco Demolition’ attempted to do. We are going to take Bieber and Cyrus’s merchandise and memorabilia, put it in a giant box, and blow it to smithereens. It is all in good fun, and we guarantee there won’t be a forfeit of a game.”
The original “Disco Demolition Night” did lead to a forfeit: that event invited fans to show up with disco records, which would allow them to be admitted to the game for 98 cents. Then, between the two games of a White Sox/Tigers double-header, local shock jock Steve Dahl would destroy the records by blowing them up. Fans stormed the field and the second game was eventually called due to unplayable conditions on the field. The White Sox forfeited the second game to Detroit.
The RiverDogs’ website proudly trumpets that was “the last American League game to be forfeited, and it remains an iconic event in music history and pop culture as a whole.”That is one way of putting it; another is that is was a pep rally for racists and homophobes.
Nile Rodgers — guitarist of the band Chic, one of disco’s biggest hit makers — said of the event, “It felt to us like Nazi book-burning.” In subsequent years, Rodgers would be hired as a producer for rock icons including David Bowie and Mick Jagger, both of whom likely agreed with his assessment of the “Demolition.”
And even an artist as celebrated in the mainstream as Bruce Springsteen took a dim view of the event, and would later react by writing a song, “Protection,” for one of the icons of the genre, Donna Summer. In his book Songs, Springsteen wrote, “[Summer] could really sing, and I disliked the veiled racism of the anti-disco movement.”
As many have noted, the subtext of the event went beyond a statement musical taste, to racism and homophobia, as disco was seen as music mostly created by, and for, non-whites and gay men.
This year’s event, however, seems a bit less socialogically harmful, if equally as troubling. And while the original event is often credited with at least assisting in disco’s downfall, it remains to be seen if a bunch of angry guys at a minor league baseball park will have any effect on the careers of Bieber and Cyrus.