The series of the week: DISCO | Happiness is in the disco

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

Posted yesterday at 11:00 am

Luc Boulanger

Luc Boulanger
The Press


The late Robert Ouimet, pictured in 2006, among his trophies received during the disco years

The godfather of the disco

Suddenly dying at the age of 74 on April 21, Robert Ouimet has been dubbed “the Montreal godfather of disco”. He is also an influential mentor for generations of young DJs in Quebec. As an expert and resident DJ at Lime Light until 1980, he appeared in this five-episode documentary, shot last fall in Montreal. It was touching to see other interviewees, such as the very relevant producer and artist Christian Pronovost, talking to us about Ouimet at the moment; recalling his feats of arms 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 record he had received from Europe. “I put on a piece of New Wave … and the dance floor was completely empty!”, He recalls. A few months later, Ouimet left Lime Light to work at Studio 1. And make this new music popular.


The Lime Light nightclub, Stanley Street in Montreal, in 1980

ang party

The disco is big party which lasted five years. The second installment of the series, Sex, drugs and disco, is also dedicated to these magical nights, well watered and well powdered. “I remember going to a party at a producer’s house. He offered guests lines of cocaine on a silver platter, like canapes, “said host Danielle Ouimet. For her, singer Patsy Gallant said people will make pure coke, in the form of a boulder and you have to take a cheese grater to break it! The production has the merit of putting all the witnesses at this time in confidence in front of the camera.Everyone narrates the their insane nights of youth without pretense.Because disco is also synonymous with excess and carelessness.

Receiving …


Mado Lamotte performing in Gesù in 2014

The disco is rhythmic like a heartbeat. And this music also serves humanity. Combines all colors, backgrounds and sexual orientations. “During the disco, for the first time, you could be whoever you want, when you wanted. And the disco, for a drag queen, is nirvana! “Summary by Mado Lamotte. The “queen mother of drags” added that she has always included disco in her cabaret shows since it opened in 2002. For their part, Kim Richardson, Pierre Perpall and Freddie James (Get up Boogie) tell us about the direct connection of disco music with funk, Motown, R&B. From the opening of the music scene in Montreal in the 1970s for black artists that started at Rock Head Paradise or at 217 Club, boulevard Saint-Laurent. At night, all cats are gray. And the disco is united.

And rejection…

One of the owners of Lime Light, Claude Chalifoux, remembers hearing people say “they’ll laugh at the gays” in the Garden. [la discothèque pour hommes seulement, située à l’étage en dessous du Lime Light]. “I told them there are no gays here. Everyone respects the other and lets the other live. If not, this is the door! In July 1979, the Disco Sucks event, a record burning in the grounds of a baseball stadium in Chicago, was seen as the beginning of the disco’s end. “For me, it’s not an anti-disco demonstration, explains singer France Joli. It’s a gesture against the blacks, women and gays associated with this music.” The disco is a reason to give- justification is a hateful act, “Robert Ouimet added.


Fly, Robin, Fly ; Born to live, Your love… In the 1970s, these titles were huge successes and … no future. from “ one hit wonders in the careers of their performers. Martin Stevens admitted that he became the singer of a hit that he continued to pick up for decades. The rapcity of the music industry heats up, the interpreter of Love is in the air keeping good memories, but also regrets. All record companies want their Bee Gees. And all the disco started singing. If the disco has lost its luster, it’s because the industry has too squeezed the lemon, and associated the genre with any products and artists … Ma’m Thibault of Monsieur Tranquille (Roger Giguère), does that sound like it?



Former interpreter of the Toulouse disco group, Judi Richards

“The disco isn’t dead, it’s just evolved,” it said at the end of the series. “Music is moments of pure happiness,” said former record store Guy Brouillard. The disco is not cheesy, if not joy and happiness as well. “Let’s give the last word to Toulouse’s interpreter, Judi Richards:“ The disco, whatever its form, will always come back. Because people always want to have fun. »

DISCO Directed by: Charles Gervais. Based on the idea of ​​Eric Hébert. Available on Vrai, Videotron’s subscription content platform.

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