In 1979, disco took over the world by storm. Artists like Bee Gees, Donna Summer, and Gloria Gaynor topped all the possible charts. Saturday Night Fever soundtrack won a Grammy for Album of the Year. Numerous disco-only radio stations emerged across the US.
But there was a man who wasn't happy with that. And his name was Steve Dahl. A 24-year-old disc jockey was sacked from a radio station that went all-disco format so he went to a rival all-rock station where he let his frustration out by breaking disco records on the air.
"Back in the day when we had turntables, I would drag the needle across the record and blow it up with a sound effect. And people liked that." - he says
Soon, station reps and Chicago White Sox promoters came up with the idea of actually blowing up disco records on the stadium. The team had 16k fans average and would have done anything to fill Comiskey Park. The rules were simple: fans who brought their unwanted disco records to the game only had to pay 98 cents to get in and after the first game of the doubleheader, Dahl promised to blow up the records on the field.
White Sox officials hoped for an additional 5,000 fans but to their surprise, nearly 60,000 showed up and most of them had no interest in baseball at all.
During the first game, drunk fans started flinging their disco records like Frisbees at each other and at the players on the field. After the game ended, Dahl put on Army helmet and drove a Jeep around the field while the fans chanted "Disco sucks! Disco sucks!" Then crates filled with more than 1,000 disco records were detonated in the outfield, ripping a hole in the grass.
What happened after that, can be described with a single word - chaos. While players ran for cover, fans jumped the fences, literally stole all the bases, toppled the batting cages, and tore up the infield.
In an hour, Chicago police in full riot gear arrived to the applause of the baseball fans remaining in the stands. Those on the field hastily dispersed upon seeing the police. Thirty-nine people were arrested for disorderly conduct; estimates of injuries to those at the event range from none to over thirty. Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck wanted the teams to play the second game once order was restored. However, the field was so badly torn up that umpiring crew chief Dave Phillips felt that it was still not playable even after White Sox groundskeepers spent an hour clearing away debris and so the game was canceled.
Over the years, Disco Demolition came to be seen as a not-so-subtle attack against disco's early adopters: blacks, Latinos, and gay people. However, Dahl himself calls this revisionist history.