The Donna Summer Memorial Roller Disco Tribute Party drew a far more diverse crowd than just veterans of the disco era.
The Boston Globe
I doffed my disco hat as the national anthem of disco, “Love to Love You, Baby,” slowly swelled over the crowd gathered in Boston’s City Hall Plaza, voted America’s Ugliest Public Space for 46 years running!
Yes, we have a lot to be proud of here in Beantown. We occupy a crucial place in American history. It was here that Donna Summer (nee LaDonna Adrian Gaines) was born in 1948. In 1975, just one year before the Bicentennial of America, she started a royalist revolution in music with Love to Love You that would restore a monarchy to this nation, which had succumbed to the bland temptations of rock democracy, when she was crowned “Queen of Disco.”
I looked to my right and saw my old buddy Salvatore Di La Saltimboccacino de Nunzio. We had been among the early disco rebels, meeting secretly in the men’s rooms of the 70’s clubs where doped-out rock fans would smoke some dope and then go out and sit like dopes down front of some white punks on dope playing dopey music. Sal–he ultimately shortened his name because it was too wide to get in the doors of some of the basement clubs–helped me plot the revolution that would spread like wildfire in the wake of The Trammps “Disco Inferno.” We wanted to get up–or down, as the case may be–and boogie!
I noticed Sal still had his disco hat on. “Hey,” I said. “What’s with the no-doffing-your-disco-hat? They’re playing . . .”
“I know,” Sal said disconsolately. “I guess I’m just . . . discouraged.”
I hadn’t seen Sal this down since the infamous “Death to Disco” night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in 1979. After that rout, it had been all downhill. The Anti-Disco Forces had won. They had us on the run, and we went into exile.
“Whatsa matta you?” I said, doing my best imitation of Sal’s pidgin Italo-American dialect, trying to bond with him a bit.
He took off his hat and gave me a look of resignation. “You and me–we’re like disabled soldiers of some despised and forgotten war.”
“Like Vietnam?” I said.
“What’s that?” Sal had been too busy dancing during the 70’s to keep up with relatively current events.
“You don’t need to know,” I said, throwing my arm around his shoulders. “You gotta look on the bright side, pal.”
“What bright side?”
“Look all around youse,” I said. “Yes we been lurking in the shadows for what–35 years? But finally, at long last, this great country of ours is beginning to recognize disco’s contribution to truth, justice–and the American Way.”
“I thought that was Superman,” he snorted. Then a mirthless little laugh came out of his mouth. “Ha,” he said.
“Why you say ‘Ha’ like that?”
“Because. Yeah, it’s great that they drew a far more diverse crowd than just veterans of the disco era to the first annual Donna Summer Memorial Roller Disco Tribute Party, but have you tried to get an appointment at the Chateau de Ville Disco Veteran’s Memorial Hospital lately?”
In fact I hadn’t, but then I had emerged from disco era battles relatively unscathed. Yeah, my knee pops every now and then, and I get neck spasms whenever I hear The Bee Gees hit the high note in “You Should Be Dancin’,” but at least I can still keep up with the kids on the Dance Dance Revolution machine when I go to the mall.
“Is it . . . bad?” I asked haltingly. You could see me halting back there, couldn’t you?
“It’s a national disgrace,” Sal said. “There are waiting lists to get on the waiting lists. The docs are underpaid–according to them. The nurses have big tits but . . .”
I could tell Sal was turning maudlin, so I cut him off. “Look, youse,” I said. “We got the rest of our miserable lives ahead of us. Let’s you and me . . .”
“You mean ‘you and I’–don’t you?” Everybody’s a freakin’ grammarian these days.
“Check page 456 of the 1937 edition of The American Language by H.L. Mencken,” I said hurriedly. “It’s fine.”
“Oh, okay–if you’re being descriptive instead of prescriptive.”
“You got that right. Anyway, let’s dedicate ourselves to preserving the legacy of disco.”
“How we gonna do that?”
“Well, we could start in Kenmore Square.”
His eyes grew misty, and when he spoke, there was a clutch in his voice. “Yeah–Lucifer, Narcissus. Them was the days all right.”
“Remember the Blizzard of ’78?” I asked.
“Boy, do I! We tramped through snow and ice and sleet to get down and get funky back then. People died in that storm!”
“Absolutely. So we could create the Tomb of the Unknown Dancer there.”
“Yeah, like that guy from Revere who did the splits without stretchin’ out first.”