Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 3:00 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

A sparkly spin on ‘The Secret Disco Revolution’

A movie review of “The Secret Disco Revolution,” a documentary that jokingly presents the rise and fall of disco music and culture in the late ’70s as a form of counterculture protest.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3 stars

‘The Secret Disco Revolution,’ a documentary directed by Jamie Kastner. 90 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Varsity.

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

If you are old enough to smile every time you hear a few notes from “Boogie Fever” (and it is, for the record, impossible not to smile at that song, let alone keep your feet still), “The Secret Disco Revolution” sounds like a perfect way to while away an hour and a half. It’s a documentary, directed by Jamie Kastner, that jokingly presents the rise and fall of disco music and culture in the late ’70s as a form of counterculture protest — a kind of power flag seized and waved by gay, black and female disco artists. With three revolutionaries as our guide — a gay man, a black man and a woman, all dressed in their sparkly disco best — the veil is lifted on this secret movement, one that everyone else thought was just about dancing and doing coke.

Except ... that nobody involved in this enterprise, other than a seemingly humorless academic who doesn’t quite seem in on the joke, thinks there was anything more to disco than that relentless beat. (Precisely, we’re told that disco was “a softened, string-heavy cousin of funk, with a 4-4 beat.”) “We were a party band,” helpfully offers a Village Person, puzzled by the elevation of disco to politics. Kastner’s black-comic yet ultimately heavy-handed concept quickly gets in the way of the movie, which should be a little more fun than it is.

It is, however, impossible to not thoroughly enjoy a movie in which we learn that Thelma Houston was never any good at the Hustle, that “Le Freak” was cowritten by a former Black Panther, that Harry Wayne Casey (i.e. KC of KC and the Sunshine Band) is still holding a grudge against the Disco Sucks movement (maybe it needs its own documentary) and that Gloria “I Will Survive” Gaynor still looks fabulous. “It was about things that make you happy,” someone ultimately explains; a perfectly fine elegy for disco, dead yet still bouncing along.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The Seattle Times wins top award for multimedia storytelling

The Seattle Times wins top award for multimedia storytelling

Our Sea Change series received a prestigious 2015 DuPont-Columbia award for showcasing the power of storytelling on the Web. Experience the report here.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

Autos news and research

His passion for Pantera began as a teen

His passion for Pantera began as a teen


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►