Hey fellow Xers! Have you heard that disco is making a comeback?
Well, actually one school of thought holds that it _ along with punk and various other musical sub-genres _ never went out. One man who maintains this notion is '70s disco kingpin, Harry Wayne "K.C." Casey of K.C. and the Sunshine Band.
"It never went away," he declared via phone from his home in Hialeah. "People have danced since the beginning of time, and they always will."
And dance they will Friday at the University of South Florida's Special Events Center, when K.C. and the Sunshine Band plays as a part of the university's homecoming celebration. If you loved Get Down Tonight, That's The Way (I Like It), and the timeless (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty, then dance fever is right around the corner.
But it can be safely said that disco isn't what it was in its glory days of the mid to late '70s. Now whenever club-goers slip into their best disco duds and seek out a "disco night" at a dance club, it's usually under the pretense of nostalgia. Those that aren't closet disco fans do it to make fun of a music style that was once considered hip, and maybe make fun of their own past music tastes.
In fact, homecoming organizers are encouraging K.C. and the Sunshine Band concertgoers to show up in period dress or bring nostalgic items from the '70s. An informal contest will take place in the Special Events Center lobby before the concert.
But here the irony comes to light. K.C., 43, sees virtually no difference between the disco music of today and that of 1975. He recalled turning on the radio a few years ago, just as he was re-entering the music business. "Everything on the radio was us," he said, bemused. "Everything sounded like a K.C. and the Sunshine Band record."
So Janet Jackson and Haddaway _ two of K.C.'s current favorites _ represent today's new shine on an old vehicle. The technology may advance, the fashions may change, but it's still the same thing.
And K.C. is only too quick to recognize K.C. and the Sunshine Band's place in the cycle. He thinks of his band's music as a variant of and contributor to the R&B legacy. The term "disco" is secondary to him. "It's dance music, it's R&B," he said. Along with R&B, the original K.C. and the Sunshine Band sound also drew from elements of Junkaboo, a Bahamian strain of dance music that incorporates steel drums, cowbells and whistles.
The group's first album was released in 1974, sold well in Europe but attracted little attention in the United States. Then came the band's eponymous second album the following year, spawning the number one hits Get Down Tonight and That's the Way (I Like It). The band's assault on the popular conscience of pop culture was galvanized with the No. 1 hits (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty in 1976 and I'm Your Boogie Man in 1978.
How did K.C. weather the "disco sucks" era that soon followed? "It didn't bother me because I had two No. 1 records on the charts," he parried, referring to the ballads Yes I'm Ready and Please Don't Go.
His career came to a halt when he was temporarily paralyzed in a near-fatal car wreck in 1982. His father died in 1983, a tragedy that he says took several years to cope with. For much of that decade, he "just didn't want to do it any more. But it was one of my father's last wishes that I didn't stop going."
That and his realization of his band's influence on today's dance music re-energized him. Since last year he has resurrected the Sunshine Band including three original members and has toured intermittently. A new album, Oh Yeah, was released four months ago. K.C. says he can get gigs in practically any city, in venues that range from dance clubs to larger arenas.
"I think this period (of disco revival) will be a stronger period, and it will last and go on forever," K.C. declared with finality.
To a certain extent he's probably right. But the polyester industry needn't be placed on full alert yet.
Get Down Tonight
That's The Way (I Like It)
(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty
Yes I'm Ready
Please Don't Go.
K.C. and Sunshine Band will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Special Events Center, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave. Tickets are $.94 for students, $3.74 for general public plus tax and service charge. For information, call 974-5202.