Disco is dead, but the jokes about it aren’t. So come on, groovy chicks and macho, macho men. Let’s shake our booties and set the dance floor on fire this Halloween!
Here are the simple (dance) “steps” you’ll need to get into the groove.
Step One: Pick Your Disco Costume Theme
When you send invitations, you’ll want to be sure to let guests know exactly what you expect from them. “Disco is Dead” can have a few different interpretations:
It could be a basic retro party with guests dressing in their 70s best. In this case, let guests know they should come in something groovy.
It could mean a “dance of the dead”-type party (these are fun). In this case, guests should dress 70s, but torn up and zombie-fied. Or they could be Frankenstein in a rainbow ‘fro wig, the Wolfman in spandex, etc.
A third interpretation would be to come in any outfit but disco. Guests could come as rappers in low, low, low pants, huge shirts and lots of faux medallion necklaces, as their favorite Dancing With the Stars participant, in full-on Kurt Cobain grunge, etc.
For the purposes of this quick tutorial, we’re taking a combination of Options 1 and 2.
Step Two: Get Down With Totally Cool Invitations
Give your invitations lots of sparkle. If you’re making your own, download an iconic disco image with “Catch the fever” in a text box below the picture.
Be creative with your wording. Other possibilities are “We are family!” for a family Halloween party, “Celebrate good times,” “Get down to Funky Town,” “Disco isn’t dead, but it kinda smells like it” or “Night of the Living Disco — are you ready?”
Any invitations except for wedding invitations should, according to party etiquette, be sent to arrive approximately two weeks before the event. But you may want to spread the word ahead of time if you’re requiring your guests to dress up (and you’d better — or we may never forgive you!).
In addition, though disco dressup items will be easy to find, a few diehard guests may want to scour thrift shops, Goodwill and ebay for authentic pieces, so give them plenty of time to find what they’re cravin’. A month should be adequate. Send a chain text, e-mail or evite with a “heads up” about the party theme and explain that they are to dress up in their funkadelic hottest.
Step Three: Creating a Disco Atmosphere
- Three words: disco ball required! Buy a real one and attach it to a light fixture on the ceiling. Another option: Place a disco ball light on a shelf and have it reflect off the dancers. This is a great effect and perfect if you don’t already have a hookup in the center of the ceiling of the party area.
- Grab a groooooooooooooovy dance mix, either on your computer, CD or however you’d like to spin your tunes, baby. (See Disco-Graphy at the bottom of this article for a few Top 40 style retro choices.)
- Place disco dancer cutouts around the area (make these out of cardboard) or hang dancer images on the wall.
- If you have enough space, arrange one or two corners at the back of the room as club “hangouts.” Place a table and two to three chairs at each, a blacklight at an angle illuminating the area (don’t angle blacklights so that guests will be looking directly up into them) and a few groovy blacklight posters. Freaky!
- In another room, have a favorite disco era movie playing so guests can get away from the throbbing beat and rest their booties. Of course, Saturday Night Fever comes to mind, but do you remember the hilarious disco sketch Thank God it’s Friday? How about Xanadu? The Last Days of Disco, a movie from 1998, is a great choice, too.
Step Four: Killer Threads (Your Awesome 70s Costume)
As the party host, you’ll want to be funky from your head to your feet. If you’re doing a haunted / zombie / dead theme along with the disco idea, get your duds first, then match commercial Halloween makeup(usually available in sets or individual tins at a very low cost — we’ve seen full sets for $1) to your disco attire.
Disco is (Literally) Dead Makeup Tips: Hollow out your eyes with black smears smudged for a realistic look, attach scars, slashes and bite marks with glue made for this purpose (your local party supply store should have it) and drip some faux blood here, there and everywhere — including your costume if you plan on using it again for this purpose.
Head and Hair for Both Women and Men: Newsboy-style caps, usually in white or a funky color, were popular in the 70s and showed up in discos. Other heads-up for your disco party attire: try a crazy rainbow ‘fro wig, or a puffy ponytails hairstyle (use an afro wig and gather one half of the hair just over one ear; secure with elastic; repeat on the other side). Or buy a feathered wig, either for a man or for a woman. Hair was a big deal in the 70s…play it up.
Tip: If you already have a layered hair style, roll it back from your face in several large curls a la Farah Fawcett. Men may have a tougher time with “feathering,” but you won’t necessarily need a wig; just brush hair back and spray it in place (think John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever with the “pouffed” top and feathered sides).
COSTUMING FOR THE GENTS:
Spandex and polyester (yes, really) were seen quite a bit on the dance floor during the disco era. Men, make sure your pants “hug”! Come on, be brave. Disco pants were often slightly flared at the very bottom, hugged VERY close at the thighs and still rather close down to about the knee. Trust us. You’re going to be a disco inferno!
For the top half of a men’s disco costume, you absolutely need something shiny. An ultra-shiny polyester long sleeved shirt that buttons (keep at least two, preferably three or four buttons open) is perfect. Bright colors are just fine; so are patterns.
Fun Tip for Guys: The pimp look is great too, and sure to get plenty of appreciation from guests. Go as all-out as possible with this. Feathers, purple, animal prints, materials such as faux velvet and tall, tall shoes are essential. So is the HUGE pimp hat. (Here’s an example of what we’re talking about.) Oh, and don’t forget the zebra striped cane!
COSTUMING FOR THE FOXY LADIES:
Women, if you’re feeling lonely in this section so far, your wait is over! Start with a pair of butt-kickin’ disco boots. These can be loud. Realy loud. Shiny, glittery, inches tall…yes, shoes did it all in the 1970s.
Women did wear flared pants in the 70s, usually (though not always) in a more pronounced way than men. Check your local consignment shop to see if you can find any ultra-flared pants. You can add ruffles or filmy material to the leg below the knee of regular yoga pants, too. Use fabric glue to make things easy.
Either a dress or a pants-and-top combo is fine. For a dress, look for one in a slinky material that ties at the waist, a very popular disco look for women. To top a pair of either very tight (Spandex or polyester) or flare-legged pants, choose a tank top, a sparkly, glittery spaghetti-strap top (try one that ties behind the neck or crosses in an interesting way in the back) or a very low-cut shirt with bell sleeves.
Fun Tip for Women: Don’t forget the makeup, ladies! Wear very obviously fake eyelashes, add plenty of robin’s egg blue eye makeup and draw a tiny star or two on your cheek with stage, costume or regular-wear makeup.
Step Five: Food…and Drink?
Whether you have alcohol at your party is up to you. If you do plan to serve hard drinks, please be sure to either have cabs available, a local cab number ready to give to guests, or request that one person in each group have a designated driver.
For 70s-style drinks, try sweet treats, such as pina coladas in various flavors (mmm!). (These can be made without alcohol if you’d like.) Other popular drinks at the disco were Harvey Wallbangers and the traditional gin and tonic.
For food, your guests will be grooving heavily if all goes well. So serve non-messy, quick appetizers. Trader Joe’s has an awesome frozen appetizers tray that tastes amazing. Pigs in a blanket, chips and dip, pretzels and candy are grab-and-go treats too.
If you’re having a small, intimate disco party (is there such a thing? Let us know, we want to recognize you!) or if there will be a separate sit-down eating area, you MUST serve (you know we’re going to say it) fondue! Cheese fondue with chunks of squishy bread absolutely screams 70s. Chocolate fondue, with dippable fruits, are yummy too.
There’s no way we could name even a quarter of all the Top 40 disco songs that Hustled their way through the late 70s. Look online for Disco Songs 70s or a similar search phrase. With that said, we couldn’t resist naming some of our favorites. Here they are…get down!
Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now, McFadden & Whitehead
Boogie Oogie Oogie, A Taste of Honey
Brick House, Commodores
Car Wash, Rose Royce
Celebration, Kool & the Gang
Come On Dance, Dance, Saturday Night Band
Disco Inferno, The Trampps
Don’t Leave Me This Way, Thelma Houston
Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, Michael Jackson
Funky Town, Lipps Inc.
Got to Be Real, Cheryl Lynn
Got to Give it Up, Marvin Gaye
Heart of Glass, Blondie
Hot Stuff, Donna Summer
I Feel Love, Donna Summer
I Love the Night Life (Disco ‘Round), Alicia Bridges
In the Bush, Mystique
I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
Kiss You All Over, Phyllis Hyman
Knock on Wood, Amii Stewart
Ladies Night, Kool & the Gang
Last Dance, Donna Summer
Le Freak, Chic
Love Hangover, Diana Ross
Macho Man, Village People
Manhattan Love Song, King Errisson
Never Can Say Goodbye, Gloria Gaynor
Rock Your Baby, George McCrae
September, Earth, Wind and Fire
Shake Your Body Down to the Ground, The Jacksons
Shame, Evelyn “Champagne” King
Stayin’ Alive, The Bee Gees
Super Freak, Rick James
Take Your Time Do it Right, The SOS Band
That’s the Way I Like It, K.C. and the Sunshine Band
The Hustle, Van McCoy
Turn the Beat Around, Vicki Sue Robinson
We Are Family, Sisters Sledge
Work That Body, Taana Gardner
YMCA, Village People
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, The Bee Gees