Sunday is the 30th anniversary of the infamous “Disco Demolition Night.”
For those unfamiliar, it went down like this: Doubleheader between the
White Sox and Tigers. Disco backlash reaching its apex. Local DJ
convinces the Sox to stage a promotion for which people bring unwanted
disco records to the game in exchange for a 98 cent ticket, the records
get collected, placed in center field, and blown up by the DJ during
the intermission between the two games. Totally foreseeable, but
seemingly unforeseen side effect: the cheap tickets and disco
demagoguery draws lots of people who usually don’t go to baseball
games, and those people proceed to use their tickets savings to buy
lots of beer. Well, at least the people who weren’t baked out of their
gourds did (I’m guessing nacho sales were pretty brisk). There’s no
dispute, however, that it was a crazy scene that evening.
Then came the explosion, which tore a big chunk out of the outfield
grass. Then thousands of fans rushed the field, lighting fires,
throwing firecrackers, and making general asses of themselves. The
batting cage was pulled down and wrecked, bases were ripped off the
infield, and the place was generally torn to shreds. Everyone was
having a grand old time until the riot police showed up. Man, those
guys can be buzzkills.
Anyway, the guy whose bright idea this all was — Steve Dahl — now writes for the Chicago Tribune, and today has an interview with . . . himself. It’s pretty good reading, actually:
So you had no idea that DD was going to be as big as it was?
No, I thought it was going to be a failure. Even if I drew 10,000
fans, the place would have still looked empty. I was just hoping I
wouldn’t be too embarrassed. I mean, I was dressed up like a fat G.I.
Joe, singing “Do You Think I’m Disco” a cappella and running around
blowing up records.
When did you know that it was going to be bigger than you had ever imagined?
When I finally got down on the field and felt the beer-fueled energy
of he crowd. I might have also smelled a little pot. They were throwing
cherry bombs at me. Never schedule an event that close to the 4th of
You mentioned alcohol and drugs. Were you high?
I don’t think so. I feared for my life and my career.
Some people may look back at Disco Demolition Night as an
unmitigated disaster. I choose to remember it fondly. After all, at
least in those days there was a sense of community. In today’s
uber-fragmented world — a world in which a given band’s perceived
coolness is directly related to how obscure it is — we can’t get
anyone to agree on anything, and there’s something quite sad about