Amoeblog


The Scene

Posted by Mike Battaglia, April 7, 2007 05:43pm | Post a Comment
A direct descendent of American Bandstand, and the older, cooler cousin of Dance Party USA, Detroit's own televised dance show The Scene ran from the mid-70's until the late 80's, giving local urban teens a place to strut their stuff and be seen by nearly everyone in the metro area - literally. The show's popularity was so high at its peak that its ratings outshined all competitors, including the six o'clock news. The Scene was the focal point for local kids, as is evident by the enthusiasm of these young dudes:



More pertinent to this blog (and interesting to me) is that The Scene was popular during the birth and growth of Detroit's last enduring gift to the world: Techno.

The show aired on Detroit's only black-owned TV station, WGPR, and had its roots in the swinging disco Seventies, as you can see in this short piece from Detroit local news:


As disco "died", it was replaced by electro, boogie, and the eurodisco now commonly referred to as Italo-disco in the early Eighties. Its use of synthesizers would directly influence Detroit's black youth, not to mention the Belleville Techno triumvirate of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Case in point: Scene-sters dancing suavely to Kano's "I'm Ready".



Even more exciting, though, is this spectacular 1982 clip featuring a guys-only dance to "Sharevari" by A Number of Names, believed to be the first Detroit Techno record and coincidentally reissued this past week on vinyl. Peep the dude with the prop guitar!



With all the frenzied screaming, yelping and hollering, the atmosphere in the studio sounds electrified! Silly dance moves and outdated fashions aside, what you have here is a mostly black (but quite multicultural) audience getting seriously down to the sort of thing that was widely (and erroneously) considered "white" music - synthesizers, drum machines, minor keys. Not only did Detroit's musical climate at the time open the doors for this music to be appreciated, it legitimized it in the eyes and ears of a young, urban, black audience, which embraced it and made it their own. Today, it makes Detroit completely unique in the US - there is no other (S/s)cene quite like it, enough so that the Detroit Historical Society now has a permanent exhibit about Techno.

Relevant Tags

A Number Of Names (1), Sharevari (1), Italo-disco (9), Italodisco (2), The Scene (4), Detroit Techno (5), Techno (35), Disco (42), Kano (2), Detroit (9), Derrick May (3), Kevin Saunderson (2), Juan Atkins (2)