Serial of the week: DISCO | Happiness is at the disco

In the 1970s, Montreal was at the heart of the disco revolution. A real center of this movement born in the underground of gay nightclubs, which quickly became common in Quebec and North America. Overview of a new documentary series that focuses on the musical and social phenomenon.

Posted at 11:00 p.m.

Luc Boulanger

Luc Boulanger


The late Robert Ouimet, photographed in 2006, amid his trophies received during the disco years

The godfather of the disco

Robert Ouimet, who died suddenly on April 21 at the age of 74, is considered the “Montreal disco godfather”. He is also an influential mentor to generations of young DJs in Quebec. As an expert and resident DJ at Lime Light until 1980, he appears in this five-episode documentary, shot last fall in Montreal. It is touching to see other interviewees, like the very important producer and artist Christian Pronovost, talk to us about Ouimet in the present; recalling his feats of weapons for the profession, and especially for the history of electronic music in the country. One fine evening in the late 1970s, tired of playing disco, Robert Ouimet decided to put on his turntable a disc he had just picked up from Europe. “I wore a piece of New Wave… and the dance floor was completely empty! “, He recalls. A few months later, Ouimet left Lime Light to work in Studio 1. And to popularize this new music.


Lime Light Nightclub, Stanley Street in Montreal, 1980

of party

Disco is a great thing party which lasted five years. The second episode of the series, Sex, drugs and disco, is also dedicated to these magical nights, well watered and well dusted. “I remember going to a party at a producer’s house. “He offered his friends cocaine lines on a silver plate, like a couch,” said presenter Danielle Ouimet. For her part, singer Patsy Gallant says that people made pure coke, in the shape of a large stone, and that a cheese grater had to be taken to cut it! The production has the merit of putting all the witnesses of this time in front of the camera in trust. Everyone confesses their crazy nights of pretentious youth. Because disco is also synonymous with extravagance and recklessness.

Acceptance …


Mado Lamotte performing at Gesù in 2014

Disco is rhythmic like heartbeat. And this music also serves as a human connector. All colors, origins and sexual orientations combined. “During the disco era, for the first time, you could become whoever you wanted, whenever you wanted. And the disco, for a drag queen, was nirvana! “Summarizes Mado Lamotte. “The Queen Mother of Crawls” adds that she has always included discos in shows at her cabaret since it opened in 2002. For their part, Kim Richardson, Pierre Perpall and Freddie James (Get up and Boogie) tell us about the direct musical connection of disco with funk, Motown, R&B. From the opening of the Montreal music scene of the 1970s to black artists who had started at Rock Head Paradise or at 217 Club, Saint-Laurent Boulevard. At night, all cats are gray. And the disco is coming together.

… And rejection…

One of the owners of Lime Light, Claude Chalifoux, recalls hearing people say they would “laugh with fagots” in the Garden [la discothèque pour hommes seulement, située à l’étage en dessous du Lime Light]. “I told them there were no thorns here. Everyone respects each other and lets others live. Otherwise, it’s the door! In July 1979, the Disco Sucks event, a burnt-out record on the court of a Chicago baseball stadium, was seen as the last start of the disco. “For me it was not a demonstration against the disco,” explains singer France Joli. It was a gesture against blacks, women and gays associated with this music. “Disco was a pretext to justify an act of hatred,” adds Robert Ouimet.


Fluturo, Robin, Fluturo ; Born to be alive, Your love… In the 1970s, these titles were great successes and … no future. by “ a miracle stroke in the careers of their performers. Martin Stevens admits he has been the singer of a hit he has consistently received for decades. Burned by the hijacking of the music industry, the translator of Love is in the air preserves beautiful memories, but also regrets. All record companies wanted their Bee Gees. And everyone started singing disco. If disco has lost its luster, it is because the industry has squeezed a lot of lemon and linked the genre with every product and artist … Mrs. Thibault of Monsieur Tranquille (Roger Giguère), does this ring a bell?



Former translator of the Toulouse disco group, Judi Richards

“Disco is not dead, it just evolved,” it says at the end of the series. “Music is moments of pure happiness,” says former record store Guy Brouillard. Disco is not sweet, if not joy and happiness are also. “Let’s give the last word to Toulouse translator Judi Richards: ‘Disco, whatever its form, will always be back. Because people will always want to have fun. »

DISCO Directed by: Charles Gervais. Based on an idea by Éric Hébert. Available on Vrai, Videotron subscription content platform.

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