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Book: Dancehalls, Glitterballs and DJs

Chapter: Le Discothèque est ici

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44955


The social and cultural upheavals of 1950s Britain were huge and irreversible, but at first the idea of the ‘discotheque’ was not part of them. They were on their way, however, thanks to developments in post-war France, where people built up collections of records and called them ‘discothèques.’ Within a few years the word ‘discothèque’ changed its meaning from a collection of gramophone records to a nightclub for dancing to recorded music. In Paris, the Whisky a Go Go and Chez Regine were two early examples of such nightclubs: a few years later, they would act as the model for Britain’s own discotheques. In New York, the Peppermint Lounge became high society’s favourite hangout and something called the Twist became its favourite dance. US armed forces personnel brought their favourite records to bases in far-flung corners of Britain, while in ports such as Liverpool sailors on transatlantic routes came home with their own selections of American discs.

Chapter Contributors

  • Bruce Lindsay ( - blindsay) 'Music Journalist and Social Historian'