Take the Disco Movement and most will refer it back to the U.S., particularly to New York City and Philadelphia.
While it was hypothetically born in Northeastern U.S., what many don’t know is that it was a universal movement. A movement that travelled fast and far. So while many were grooving to the beats of Gloria Gaynor and Sylvester at Studio 54 and David Mancuso’s Loft, something else was going on elsewhere. Something very funky.
Rewind to West Africa in the 1980s.
By the late 1970s, disco was slowly declining in the U.S. So much so, that it even became the target of a murder scene caused by the Disco Demolition Night, an anti-disco protest held in Chicago in 1979, where they burned disco records. That’s when Nigeria, specifically Lagos, stepped in and brought it back to life. And in a very groovy way.
The 1980s in Nigeria came with an explosive oil boom and a return in democracy after a series of military dictatorship. The economy was roaring, calling Nigerian citizens to travel and explore or simply celebrate in their hometown by hitting the dance floors. This in turn, led to new waves of cultures flowing in an out, creating a two-way street of inspiration and an explosion of creativity.
And from there was born the Afro-Disco & Boogie movement, bringing an unfamiliar twist on a classical sound.
A cacophony of sounds and vibrations and repetitious motifs with no melody line and steady. Buoyant beats, free-roaming like a wanderer with no final destination. A combination of afrobeat, disco, jazz and funk all put into one.
And so in ode to the legends of the Afro-Disco movement, here is a curated playlist from Steve Monite from Nigeria with Only You, Kiki Gyan from Ghana with Disco Dancer, Amadou & Miriam, from Mali with Bofou Safou and most importantly Manu Dibango from Cameroon with Soul Makossa- arguably the first Afro-disco single that hit New York and created a new energy in the disco scene. You can also find some Afro-house with remixes of classics made by international DJs such as Folamour, Armonica, Pablo Fierro, Mr. Raoul, Voilaaa, Kiko Navarro, St Germain… There’s even a track by Santana from his album Africa Speaks, which differs from his usual rock music.