Could the 35th anniversary of Disco Demolition go unheralded?
It was the most infamous radio promotion of all time. It was a turning point in the history of rock and roll. It was one of the biggest debacles in the annals of Chicago sports. And it was the defining moment in the career of a 24-year-old disc jockey named Steve Dahl.
On July 12, 1979, a riot broke out at Comiskey Park after Dahl ceremoniously blew up a box of disco records and thousands of his disco-detesting fans stormed onto the field. The damage was so severe that the White Sox had to forfeit the second game of their double-header against the Detroit Tigers.
Unlike previous milestone anniversaries of the event, there’s nothing lined up to commemorate it this year, according to Dahl, now 59, who hosts a daily radio show as part of a subscription podcast venture he launched in 2011.
“I really don't have a plan as of this time,” Dahl told me this week. “It is the 35th anniversary of something that took place on 35th Street [Comiskey Park], but that's about as far as I've gotten. Any and all suggestions welcome.”
Last year at this time Dahl announced plans for a book on Disco Demolition, to be written by Frank Sennett, former president and editor-in-chief of Time Out Chicago and a frequent guest on his podcast. But the project did not come to fruition after University of Chicago Press passed on it, and Sennett became director of digital strategy at Crain's Chicago Business.
“It would have been a fun story to tell, especially since Steve planned to hold nothing back and we were going to include all perspectives on the event,” Sennett said.