The Major League Baseball team, Chicago White Sox, have announced they will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the controversial 1979 Disco Demolition night.
Steve Dahl, a radio DJ who had been dismissed from another station at the time due to a format change towards disco, famously began to destroy disco records live on air.
The station and Chicago White Sox collaborated on a promotional event where attendees of two games against the Detroit Tigers were offered discounted tickets in exchange for the offering of a disco record (to be destroyed).
With 18,000 attendees turning up on average for any Chicago White Sox game, 70,000 arrived on Disco Demolition night. Steve Dahl blew up a box of disco records center field, which resulted in riots and the second game being ultimately cancelled.
The Disco Demolition night has long been associated with racism and homophobia. An usher from the stadium in 1979 told National Public Radio that the records being exchanged that day were not strictly disco, but rather “Tyrone Davis records, friggin' Curtis Mayfield records and Otis Clay records. Records that were clearly not disco”.
Despite the controversy, Chicago White Sox will commemorate the event this Thursday with original event host Steve Dahl, by distributing 10,000 free t-shirts at the team’s current stadium, Guaranteed Rate Field.
Chicago's 5 Mag has published a piece speaking out against the a celebration of Disco Demolition, particularly considering its occurrence during Pride month.
Following criticism, the Chicago White Sox have released a statement defending their right to host the event, which was shared on Pitchfork.
"This year's Disco Demolition T-Shirt giveaway was intended to recognize the anniversary of a historic off-the-field moment that has been connected to the organization over the past 40 years," the statement reads. "It is a recognizable part of Chicago baseball history. We recently were made aware of comments criticizing the T-Shirt giveaway and are in the process of reviewing feedback. We have been communicating with our community partners who have raised concerns to make it clear that the intent of this giveaway was only meant to mark the historical nature of the night 40 years later. We have reinforced that the White Sox organization is dedicated to advocating for a safe, welcoming ballpark experience for all people and communities, and will continue to engage in important, informative discussions with our fans and partners to build toward positive change through sports. We remain proud of our franchise's longstanding record on advocating for inclusion and diversity."