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Opening June 15, the exhibit explores the cultural shift that witnessed a rainbow coalition of marginalized communities gather on New York City dance floors to generate a radical new form of DJ-led music making 

TULSA, Okla. (May 17, 2023) — Opening June 15 at the Woody Guthrie Center, the new exhibit “Love Saves the Day: The Subterranean History of American Disco” explores how the oft-maligned disco genre became a groundbreaking and joyous social movement.

Beginning this summer, visitors to the Woody Guthrie Center will have the opportunity to explore the rise of contemporary DJ culture in New York City and the pivotal role that women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community played in the generation of a new form of music-making and melting pot social experience.

“It might seem odd for the Woody Guthrie Center to host a disco exhibit,” said Director of the Woody Guthrie Center Cady Shaw. “But this exhibit has a broader examination of popular music culture as a site of progressive engagement — as Guthrie understood. Additionally, visitors can expect to come away with an appreciation of key innovations in postwar music culture, the rise of DJ and disco culture and its influence on hip-hop, punk and new wave music.”

Co-curated by chloē fourte and Tim Lawrence, the exhibit will feature a unique experience in the form of a re-imagining of David Mancuso’s Loft, complete with Klipschorn and La Scala speakers, a mirror ball, a ceiling of balloons and comfortable furniture. The exhibit will also display rare documentary footage from Nicky Siano’s highly influential downtown party space, the Gallery, and archival footage of the July 1979 “Disco Sucks!” riot at Comiskey Park in Chicago, which marked the culmination of the anti-disco movement.

The private parties and membership-based venues such as the Loft and the Gallery increased in popularity throughout the ‘70s. By operating underground, they were able to sidestep restrictive cabaret laws that mandated universal closure times, allowing the parties to last well into the next mornings, sometimes even days long. The Loft and venues like it provided consistent and safe environments for their participants to explore new music, consciously crafting spaces that foregrounded dance, community and experimental sounds. The DJs fostered in the scene became the purveyors of the new sound, a music that was definitively more Black, more Latin and more gay.

“Loves Saves the Day” will be on view from June 15 through Oct. 8.

The Woody Guthrie Center is grateful for its partnership with Klipsch Group, Inc. for this exhibition.

For more information, please visit woodyguthriecenter.org.


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About The Woody Guthrie Center

The Woody Guthrie Center, opened in 2013, is dedicated to spreading Woody Guthrie’s message of diversity, equality and justice to a new generation who can create their own ripples of change. The center honors Guthrie’s life and legacy by educating visitors, teachers, students and scholars about his relevance today and his important role in American history through on-site programming, classroom materials, youth music programs, artist-in-residence programs, school outreach, internships, fellowship opportunities and the Woody Guthrie Center Archives.

For more information, please visit www.woodyguthriecenter.org.