Land of Disco

On February 2, 2014 · 3 Comments

I came across an unusual neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina where many of the streets were named for different genres of dance. Why yes, it was a mobile home park. How did you guess?

Schenley Square, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

It further confirmed my theory that trailer parks have the best street names, using labels that everyone would love to have if society didn’t constrain them with highfalutin notions. Waltz, Minuet and Polonaise sounded almost normal. Modern and Folk were pretty lame, though — get it, Modern Dance, Folk Dance, really? Cha Cha, Swing and Twist started getting more adventurous. Break Dance and Hip Hop definitely took some guts. At a main entrance to the community though, visible to the entire outside world (Street View), a road named Disco Lane? Exceptional.

That transported me mentally to a carefree time in musical history when Disco ruled the planet, sandwiched firmly between the activism of Hippies and the anger of Punks. Did the denizens of discotheques, mirror balls and polyester leisure suits leave any physical marks upon the geographic landscape other than a random trailer park in North Carolina? Not particularly. Disco may have become a pop cultural phenomenon briefly during the 1970’s, however most partakers denied knowledge afterwards. Nonetheless I found plenty of places with coincidental naming.

Disco Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The U.S. Geographic Names Information System listed four populated Discos, one found in Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin respectively. None of them was larger than a flyspeck. The occurrence in Tennessee may have been the most significant. It even included the wonderfully-named Disco Loop Road (map).

I’m not letting Canada off-the-hook either. The Canadian 12MC audience can always visit Disco Road in Toronto. They can dump their garbage at the Disco. I’m not kidding. The city maintains a drop-off depot for household hazardous waste and electronics at 120 Disco Road. I’m sure Toronto wasn’t trashing Disco intentionally. I’m also sure that Toronto West Detention Centre at 111 Disco Road wasn’t intended as a slight either. All coincidental, I assure you. Or was it? Why did all the Disco fans disappear suddenly after Disco Demolition Night?

Do the Hustle

Hustle, Virginia, USA

The Hustle may have been Disco’s defining dance. It exploded in popularity after Van McCoy & the Soul City Symphony released their song of the same name in 1975. This will be the one and only time Van McCoy & the Soul City Symphony will ever be mentioned in Twelve Mile Circle so mark it down and remember the date.

I found Hustle in Virginia. It wasn’t a town proper, just a crossroads, although it did have its own Zip Code – 22476. Conceivably, disco aficionados could carry an envelope to the post office and go home with a coveted Hustle postmark if they so desired.

Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

If Disco had a defining dance it also had a defining movie, Saturday Night Fever, a theatrical pandemic from 1977. IMDB summarized it with few words, "a Brooklyn youth feels his only chance to get somewhere is as the king of the disco floor." That was the extent of any meaningful plot. It launched the career of John Travolta in the title role.(¹) The soundtrack released by the Bee Gees also became phenomenally successful.

I found Saturday Night Lake in Alberta (map above) and Saturday Night Hill in Montana (map) along with several other much smaller features with similar names.

Travolta St., Stafford Heights, Queensland, Australia

With respect to Mr. Travolta once again, I discovered him amongst several other era-appropriate actors, singers and entertainers in the streets of a development in Stafford Heights, Queensland, Australia. The same development also contained, I believe, the only street in the world named for Ernest Borgnine. Personally, I’d love to live at the corner of (Dolly) Parton and (Elvis) Presley Streets.


McBurney YMCA, New York City, New York, USA

It would be difficult to assign a signature song to the Disco era because it had so many iconic contenders. Y.M.C.A. by the Village People certainly qualified for elite status because of its sheer staying power. New York City’s Greenwich Village was the village of the Village People so I’d nominate the McBurney YMCA for special attention. Technically I guess it’s on the wrong side of W. 14th Street which puts it just north of the Village. Close enough for me.

And now I can’t get The Hustle out of my head. This will be a long, agonizing day.

(¹) Let’s not even pretend he can afford a home with its own jumbo jet hanger because of his earlier "groundbreaking" work in Welcome Back, Kotter where his primary claim involved coining the catchphrase "up your nose with a rubber hose."


On February 2, 2014 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Land of Disco”

  1. The king of geographical disco has to be Greenland’s Disco Island (Disko √łer, or Qeqertarsuaq, which is actually the 85th largest island on Earth.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the Dutch city of Almere, which has streets named for all types of music-related themes, including Golden Earringstraat. ‘Radar Love’, indeed.

    (As well, I now also have ‘The Hustle’ stuck in my head. Thanks, Tom. Do you know how much hardcore I’m going to have listen to today to cancel it out? I hope my buddies don’t mind my blasting Minor Threat and YDI over top of the Super Bowl halftime show.)

  2. Rob says:

    I was praying for a reference to Disco Demolition Night as I made my way through the article. As usual, you did not disappoint!

  3. Peter says:

    One of the more memorable scenes in The Godfather, when Moe Green gets shot in the eye during a massage, was filmed at the McBurney YMCA.

    I’ll hazard a guess and say that the names Minuet and Polonaise are completely lost on approximately 100% of the Raleigh trailer camp’s residents.

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