G.I. DISCO - what´s that ?


Dear Listeners, Music lovers, and Dance Aficionados,

Soul, Funk and R&B from the US became a worldwide dance and clubbing movement during the 70s when it turned "disco". In the late 70s and 80s more and more new electronic instruments like synthesizers and drum machines were added to the horn riffs and piano licks, bringing the Funk back on the dance floor while still leaving it´s Soul untouched. Although a global success story, it played an interesting role especially in the German experience.

Luckily for us, the American G.I.s stationed in West-Berlin and parts of West-Germany during times of the "cold war", brought this music with them. Equally responsible were the radio station AFN (American Forces Network), as well as clubs within the vicinity of the army-barracks in such cities as Berlin(West), Frankfurt am Main, Rammstein, Heidelberg, Munich, Hanau, Stuttgart or Mannheim. Although there was no further intention than to just offer some entertainment to the US troops far away from home, there was a strong appeal to the local people as well: AFN´s top 40 show format and the style of their DJs was a so far completely unknown radio concept to the German listeners, and the soul, funk & disco records that army djs like Steve Kastelac or The Magnificent Magoo played on their shows where simply the freshest sound around. Those who gained admission to the US clubs then regulated by the military police, and after exchanging D-Mark into Dollars were not only able to listen to the hottest new music. A fortunate few witnessed the latest dance moves while having a Dr.Pepper.Yet, back in the times of Jazz and Rock`n´Roll the exotic music, dance styles and beverages were all imported from the US.

No surprise that also some German clubs in the US sectors adopted the concept, frequently hiring US bartenders, bouncers and DJs. Most of these places where ethnic melting pots where African-American G.I.s mingled with local German women. This simultaneously offered the Afro-German community a home where they could be part of the majority…for at least a night. Influenced at this time were German bands of the so called „Neue Deutsche Welle“ (NDW). One of their main representatives, the Berlin based “Spliff”, even wrote a popular song about this clubbing- and music phenomena: „Das Blech“. Later on it were dance projects like "Snap!" from Frankfurt/M. or the German rappers of "Die Fantastischen Vier" from Stuttgart that revealed this sound to a bigger German audience by hitting the top of the charts with their interpretation of what they had experienced in those clubs. The only one of its kind to be known to a larger public was the infamous club „Labelle“ in West-Berlin. Sadly however, club "Labelle" is not remembered for the music, but for an unfortunate terrorist attack in 1986.

This also marks the beginning of the end of this "80s history of cold war´s hottest music in West-Germany". New genres like Miami Bass or New Jack Swing were developing under the influence of Hip Hop and House, and still it all was put into the same dj mix. But only a couple of years later the dance was through: The fall of The Berlin Wall made clear that the "cold war" was over. At about the same time a brand new dance music and party experience emerged, called "Techno".The new genre separated dance floors into both "electronic", and "non-electronic" much like Germany had been before it was split politically into "East" and "West". "Techno" appeared by no coincidence initially within the former US sectors of both Berlin, and Frankfurt/M.

"G.I. DISCO" CD/Vinyl compilation, BBE Records, 2010