Digital History Blog

Disco Mixtape for Roller Skating, Anyone?

I love music. I love listening to it, I love learning about it, I love talking about it, and I love knowing what others are listening to. While songs are meant for popular consumption, a mixtape (or playlist) is very personal, and as such, can tell you a lot about a person. Even the platforms that we use to stream our mixtapes say something.

I have been using Spotify since I was in high school and I keep all of my old playlists. I find this platform to be very intuitive and reliable. And I love that Spotify gives you a year-end report on your listening (Wrapped). Any new playlist that I make becomes part of my personal archive. Recently, I added a new mixtape that combines two of my favorite things: disco music and roller skating. This is the perfect combination. Now don’t exit this page! Give disco a chance for me. On the surface, it’s good fun that will have you grooving (or at least tapping your feet and bobbing your head). On a deeper level, I have so much respect for the culture and history of disco music, particularly the Black women who defined the genre, and roller skating. So while you listen to a few songs at your desk or as you make dinner, I will be listening to this mixtape as I strap on my knee pads (safety first!) and get some exercise.

The full playlist will be available at the bottom of the page. While I typically use Spotify, I am adding YouTube links for anyone who doesn’t use that platform (because Spotify will shuffle the order for non-payers). I also appreciate the music video element of Youtube that you miss with Spotify, which will tell us a lot about disco and roller skating during its present comeback. I am breaking this mixtape down from oldest song to newest, with a little historical context mixed in, of course!

Cheryl Lynn, “Got to Be Real” 1978

I (and many others) will always associate this song with the ~legend~ary documentary, Paris is Burning (which is its own can of worms, but a good one). Disco should also be remembered for its historic meaning to the LGBTQ+ community.

CHIC, “My Forbidden Lover” (1978)

It’s not “Le Freak,” but this is my favorite CHIC song. Members Rodgers (yes, THE Nile Rodgers) and Edwards were simultaneously working with the most influential disco artists and biggest disco records, helping to define and popularize the genre, including the album that my next song is from.

Sister Sledge, “One More Time” (1979)

This album is so good, it’s hard to select the best one–this one is my current favorite. Sister Sledge emerged out of the well-defined Philly Soul/The Sound of Philadelphia movement into the mainstream.

Donna Summer, “Bad Girls” (1979)

I couldn’t make this mixtape without Donna Summer! She is considered the Queen of Disco, and her influence cannot be understated.

Patrice Rushen, “Haven’t You Heard” (1979)

Patrice shows off her skills as a pianist in the second half of the song. This record emerged months after a seminal moment in disco history, Disco Demolition Night. Record companies began to market disco differently after this baseball game promotional event (which may or may not have had racist and homophobic undertones) turned riot, and the genre slid into a slow decline.

Lord Echo, Mara TK, “The Sweetest Meditation” (2017)

We jump to the present here. It is interesting to note that disco infusion reemerged in circumstances not unlike its roots, which originally provided a sense of escape from social strife. Notably, however, Black women are not necessarily part of disco’s emerging comeback.

Victoria Monet, Khalid, SG Lewis, “Experience” (2020)

This one is so much fun. The return of disco infusion to popular music benefits from the music video, which in this case, is an obvious portrayal of disco as it is culturally remembered–mirror balls, over-the-top fashion, and of course, roller skating. It is important to note that this is the biggest edge that I think YouTube has over Spotify in terms of streaming music.

Jessie Ware, “Step Into My Life” (2020)

This album is perfect (in my opinion) and was critically acclaimed (in the opinion of others). This music video is more of a nostalgic nod than the full-blown portrayal that accompanied the previous song on my playlist.

Do you prefer Spotify too? Here is my mixtape:

Did you hear anything you like? Did this make you want to buy a new pair of roller skates? Are you googling disco history (as you should)? Any new artists with a disco-infused sound that I need to check out? Drop a comment below!

3 thoughts on “Disco Mixtape for Roller Skating, Anyone?

  1. Collin – thanks for sharing! I enjoyed this playlist and the disco history lesson. I appreciate the beat of these songs, makes me feel like I could lace up some skates and own it (although I would fall pretty quickly). I have not ventured too far into the Disco genre but of course, I still knew Donna Summer, thanks for reintroducing her to me!

  2. I absolutely love this theme, Collin! Your rollerskates are fabulous, the music is excellent, and I find this to be an incredibly fun playlist! I’ll have to use this on my next workout!

  3. This is such a cool theme! I haven’t listened to much disco music in the past, so I love that this playlist can be a good place to start! For some reason most of my experience regarding disco is from the episode of “That 70s Show” where most of the characters hate disco, as well as the musical “Xanadu.” Thanks for the awesome recommendations!

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