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Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture Paperback – March 21, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As American studies professor and Janis Joplin biographer (Scars of Sweet Paradise) Echols succinctly states, Nothing seems to conjure up the seventies quite so effectively as disco. But while the decade's weltanschauung is often dismissed as merely polyester and platform heels, Echols aims for—and thoroughly achieves—a range of higher cultural insights. Using an encyclopedic knowledge of the eras' biggest stars, she shows how all sorts of musical disco styles played a central role in broadening the contours of blackness, femininity, and male homosexuality in America. She brilliantly explores the many ways that early disco clubs created new spaces where gay men could safely come together in a large crowd, at the same time often masking an early strain of the racial and class exclusion that dominated disco's later years. She brings to light the influence of underground legends such as club deejay Tom Moulton, who first remixed popular records to make them longer for dancing and created the model for the 12-inch, extended play disco single. Best of all is Echols's revelatory look at how the critique of racism and sexism in the film Saturday Night Fever offers a richer portrait of the disco seventies than its critics have granted. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Only nominally about the watered-down funk music that was disco, Echols’ history instead focuses on disco’s social effects, particularly the rise of gay consciousness and the mainstreaming of the gay rights movement. Echols proclaims that she likes disco and thinks if others gave it half a chance, they would, too. Be that as it may, she knows her dancin’-fool stuff. She makes a convincing case for disco’s far-reaching cultural legacies, and her discussion of the career arc of the Village People is an excellent vehicle for examining the phenomenon of much of mainstream America embracing disco while blithely ignoring the gay subtext of scads of disco songs. Her dissections of the trials and tribulations of disco artists in general and Donna Summer in particular are telling and well presented. All in all, if one feels the need to be knowledgeable about the rise and fall of the disco lifestyle and how elements of the once-reviled music genre still act upon American culture today—this is the goods. --Mike Tribby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (March 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393338916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393338911
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Echols new book on disco is an engaging, smart read. She brings to life both the political complexities of the time as well as the music and it's many scenes. A brilliant historian and superb storyteller (the book is filled with great anecdotes), Echols' book transcends the usual fare on disco by taking on an in-depth account of how disco both reflected and contributed to the ways that identities of African Americans, gays, and women shifted in these years. A must read for anyone interested in the cultural history of disco and the legacies of 70's social change movements.
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Format: Hardcover
Lively, readable, yet serious and scholarly, once again, Echols gives us a social and cultural history of America in the 1970s that we all need. This book is a pleasure from the first line to last, with the insets in between, adding a particularly nice touch, as they each focus on a specific song and illustrate its place in an important moment in disco's history. Thoroughly researched, yet a page-turner, Hot Stuff reveals things that some of us assumed, but could never really prove, especially in relation to disco's essential role in an emerging, out gay culture in the USA.
Enjoy! I did!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most people tend to recoil at either hearing or reading the word "disco" but this book takes the subject and puts into a very interesting sociological context. It takes the time frame of disco from the mid seventies to its demise in the early eighties and threads disco through its importance in ethnicity, sexual orientation and social class consciousness. Good reading if you either loved disco or hated it.
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By Jessica on September 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alice Echols's book on disco's part in the 70s cultural revolution is fantastic. Although each section focuses on a different population (such as women, gay men, and rock fans), she never allows you to forget about the other groups as she goes along, weaving together a complex and intricate view of disco and 1970s culture.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great overview of before, during and after the disco era.

What it meant socially to different groups, how it changed US culture and values, the lifestyles behind the music, and best of all, the music itself.

Copious footnotes, and even includes a DJ setlist!

Great all-encompassing history of disco, with special focus on disco and GLBT, disco and women, and disco and Black Americans.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Informative and entertaining; a fantastic book for anyone interested not only in disco but also American culture in the 70s. Echols is a fantastic author and scholar, if you enjoy this book, you should check out some of her other works. Highly recommended!
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