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43 years ago, an anti-disco baseball promo unleashed a mass riot steeped in homophobia and racism

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Baseball fans are used to receiving swag when stadiums host regular ‘promotion nights’, from bobble heads to drink coupons. But on this day in 1979, the Chicago White Sox lured crowds with a much different proposal — come to a double-header at Comiskey Park and witness crates of disco records get blown to pieces in between games.

Chaos and rioting ensued, and many historians and disco artists feel the incident was steeped in homophobia and racism.Disco was wildly popular in the late ’70s and deeply rooted in minority communities, including gay nightlife culture.

Artists like Donna Summer, ABBA and Sylvester regularly pumped through the speakers at gay bars and clubs. At the same time, there was a backlash against the genre from rock fans who felt it was somehow ruining music.Related: WATCH: Keiynan Lonsdale pays an uber-sexy tribute to the queer disco godsWhen Chicago’s WDAI-FM switched from rock to disco and DJ Steve Dahl got fired in 1978, Dahl became something of a folk hero for disco haters.

White Sox owner Bill Veeck and his son saw an opportunity to harness the musical tension, partnering with Dahl for what would be the strangest night of baseball anyone had ever witnessed.Dubbed “Disco Demolition Night”, the event not only sold out the 50,000 seat stadium, it drew an additional 20,000 disco haters who mobbed outside the ballpark and eventually stampeded their way inside.

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