The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

Reflections in a Mirrored Ball

Event Details:
July 15, 2011 – July 31, 2011
Billy Wilder Theater, UC Los Angeles

IN-PERSON: Director Michael Schultz, producer Gary Stromberg and actor Franklyn Ajaye (7/15); actress Robin Menken (7/22).

Following the Vietnam War and Watergate, and faced with a slide into national economic torpor, American popular culture of the 1970s understandably indulged in various modes of escapism and spectacle. A signature cultural category of the time was “disco,” the glamorized practice of public dancing to recorded music in a hyper-theatrical public space. The trend took off in devastated neighborhoods of New York City as an affordable, welcoming outlet for the working class, gays and people of color, but quickly developed cache, spawning exclusive clubs and (significantly) a nationwide media craze holding urban and rural youth in its mass-mediated thrall—if only for a few years. Feature films running concurrently with the nationwide trend offered dramatic and comedic depictions of the emergent lifestyle, simultaneously picking up and offering cues about what supposedly made its adherents cool and free. These films, functioning as entertainment and reportage, encapsulated the sights and sounds of a self-conscious juggernaut, and offer valuable information about bourgeois disaffection, class aspiration, racial interaction, sexual mores, and the role of pop culture in the 1970s.

This film series includes Car Wash (1976), Can’t Stop the Music (1980), Thank God It’s Friday (1978), and several more! For more information visit:

Check out the Los Angeles Times preview, “Classic Hollywood: Disco Era Flared, Then Fizzled.”

Posted in: News