On July 12, 1979 the anti-disco movement was at its peak (rock fans really hated “Saturday Night Fever”). Steve Dahl, DJ at WLUP, was the leader of this movement in Chicago. He was known for scratching disco records live on air – right before blowing them up.
This day was special due to the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers’ baseball double header, which featured an intermission conducted by Dahl. It was coined, “The Disco Demolition.”
Those attending the second game would only be required to pay $.98 for a ticket, if they brought a disco record to be destroyed. And by destroyed, they meant put into a giant dumpster and BLOWN UP by Dahl and his army of disco-haters. Wow. Nowadays, $.98 wouldn’t get you a mustard packet.
At the time, Comiskey Park in Chicago was having some attendance issues. Park officials anticipated around 5,000 fans for this disco debauchery. They were off… by about 65,000 people.
People were climbing over the fences, sneaking in through gaps in the outfield walls and simply walking right in… remember, this is the age of low-security.
After the records were piled into a giant dumpster in center field, Dahl arrived in style – riding in a WWII style Jeep and wearing a general’s uniform. The crowd went nuts when the “explosion” looked less like fireworks, and more like a WWII mortar round. The crowd was immediately whipped into a frenzy.
Dahl made his intentions very clear. “This is now officially the world’s largest anti-disco rally! Now listen—we took all the disco records you brought tonight, we got ‘em in a giant box, and we’re gonna blow ‘em up reeeeeeal goooood!”
Shortly after Dahl’s Jeep has made its celebratory victory lap, the crowd grew louder and more restless. A few brave attendees ran onto the field, sliding right into second base. Ballsy move.
Within minutes hundreds of disco haters, punk rockers and degenerates were on the field. Eventually, thousands… the baseball fans were pretty freaked out. As the masses grew more out of control, the park officials became more desperate in their efforts to control the scene.
Harry Carey couldn’t even control the crowd.
Carey: “Can you all hear me down there?”
Carey: “Holy, cow!”
Disco-haters began storming the dugouts, digging out home plate and even finding a nice romantic spot to practice exhibitionism… yikes. Drinking, smoking and frolicking on the field were not usually the norm for White Sox fans… but today was different.
The scoreboard read, “Please return to your seats.” Shortly after the police rode in on horses.
The night resulted in only 39 arrests and minor injuries, but the field suffered the worse losses. Comiskey Park was destroyed by broken glass, littered with shards of records, trash and pieces of mangled dumpster and trampled by thousands of rockers. The second game was cancelled. It was awesome.
Almost overnight, disco had been removed from rotation by radio stations. The Bee-Gees attributed the death of disco to this event and the cultural backlash that followed. Thanks Steve Dahl! You sure know how to throw a party!
The following day, Tiger General Manager Sparky Anderson proclaimed, “Beer and baseball go together, they have for years. But I think those kids were doing things other than beer.” You’re right Sparky… they were rocking out.