Although disco was one of the most beloved music genres in the late 1970s, not everyone was on board with the popular dance numbers. Rock music fans, in particular, had strong, negative reactions to the genre. In fact, this opposition was so prevalent—it inspired one of the most disturbing Major League Baseball promotions in history.
During a disappointing season, the White Sox saw this hatred for disco as the perfect opportunity to fill their stadium with fans. They hired anti-disco campaigner Steve Dahl to organize an unbelievable promotion. Tickets to the doubleheader at Comiskey Park were sold at a discount rate of 98 cents. To get said discount, guests simply had to bring a disco record to the event. Dahl planned to collect thousands of these records and destroy them all with a dramatic explosion.
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July 12, 1979 was the date of Disco Demolition Night—and the turnout was jaw-dropping. White Sox officials never foresaw a crowd of 50,000 people showing up. Shockingly, the stadium reached capacity, causing thousands of hopeful attendees to sneak in after they were denied entry. Pandemonium ensued.
Though the plan was for staff to collect all the records, the staggering number of guests meant that many began flinging their vinyl albums from the stands like frisbees. But the day took an even darker turn after the crate of disco records exploded. Waves of people rushed onto the field and turned the event into a wild riot.
In the end, the White Sox had to forfeit the second game due to the damage inflicted on the field. But that’s not the most disappointing part. Many believe Disco Demolition Night was a clear expression of prejudice and homophobia, and that the extreme event sparked the decline of disco.
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