Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
July 21, 1998

Disco relics that shook the world.
Author/s: Bruce Vilanch

If you don't remember these, you weren't really there. If you do remember these, you were there, but you weren't having any fun

We can all hum the tunes, but music was only one of the factors that defined the total disco experience. The Advocate's Bruce Vilanch revisits the era of boogie nights and returns with a top-ten list of our favorite disco costumes and customs.


A disco version of The Circle of Life. The poppers gave you a 30-second rush of oblivion on the dance floor. Since you were already 'luded to the gills, this meant you stumbles around more, generally crashing into somebody who was just putting a coke spoon to his nose, making him spill the coke, causing a mass plunge to the floor by everyone in the vicinity. While you were down there, you'd usually find some old poppers, and the whole cycle would start over again.


Crucial so that no one could tell how long you'd been up or the actual combination of disco drugs you'd ingested. From the wearer's side, it really was the world thru rose-colored glasses. Suddenly the phrase made sense.


Borrowed from dance marathons and cheesy ballrooms of an earlier age, they were terrific to look into when ripped, particularly when they started twirling and casting spooky polka-dot shadows on everything. A good way to get a slow date to faint in your arms.


Roach crushers of a high order. The source of an entire generation's lower back problems. Gravity fought you at every turn, but they actually were a godsend to the stoned dancer. You couldn't pick your feet up anyway, so you just stood there and waved your arms. Later known as voguing.


A constant source of embarrassment. Red hankie, left pocket = I dance on your face. Or do you dance on mine? Wait a minute, that's blue hankie, right pocket. Hold on, blue means...well, I'm not sure. All I know is: Never wear a yellow slicker in the back room of a disco. Unless, of course, you're ready to go singin' in the rain.


Unfortunately, you couldn't tell from the jewelry if he actually had any coke--that was the downside of the fashion statement, At Studio 54 a huge half-moon with a spoon dangling from it loomed over the dance floor. It was like a giddy declaration of independence from the straight world.


A holdover from the hippie era, which was fading away as disco took hold. The last connection of the disco dancer to The Land, as represented by some kind of frontier look. Also, the fringes swayed and looked cool when you danced. But they could whiplash other dancers who were sinking to the floor. (See poppers.")


Many were worn so often that they still remain in the corner of the bedroom, standing of their own power. They made everybody look like a sailor, which for many of us was not a bad thing at all. People work out for years to get the kind of thighs those pants gave you in two seconds.


Made famous by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and imitated by discos the world over. Also the cause of many an ankle fracture as a loaded dancer momentarily lost track of where the floor actually was.


If you had muttonchop sideburns or a handlebar mustache, short-cropped hair, gold chains clanking on you chest, boots at all times, wraparound glasses of a certain tint, and telltale amyl nitrate burns around your nostrils, you didn't need to have a mirror. You could just look at the guy you were with.