HomeCultureMusic
The subgenres of disco: a brief guide

The subgenres of disco: a brief guide

3 min read

From the romantic echoes of Italo-disco to the energetic pulse of Hi-NRG, disco's diverse landscape offers a spectrum of sounds that transcend time and place
In the kaleidoscopic world of disco subgenres, each facet contributes to the genre's enduring allure. As you navigate through the beats of Euro-disco, the cosmic allure of Space Disco and the rhythmic roots of Afro-disco, you'll discover that disco is more than a genre—it's a sonic odyssey, inviting you to dance through the ages. So, put on your dancing shoes, embrace the rhythm, and let the disco ball illuminate your journey through the groovy chapters of this timeless genre.

Italo-disco

Imagine cruising down the neon-lit streets of 1980s Italy in a convertible, and you will begin to capture the essence of Italo-disco. Known for its synthesis of electronic beats, catchy melodies and dreamy vocals, Italo-disco emerged as a genre that perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the era. Artists like Giorgio Moroder and Gazebo paved the way for a sound that resonates with both nostalgia and a sense of the future.
You will be transported to a world where cosmic synths meet pulsating basslines, a sonic landscape that feels both retro and futuristic. Italo-disco's influence extends beyond its heyday, with contemporary artists paying homage to its infectious rhythms and unabashedly romantic vibes.

Euro-disco

In the bustling discos of Europe, a vibrant subgenre known as Euro-disco emerged, marrying the energy of disco with electronic beats and a dash of pop sensibility. Picture glamorous Eurovision performances and energetic dance routines—that's the essence of Euro-disco. Acts like ABBA, Boney M., and Modern Talking became synonymous with this genre, captivating audiences with infectious beats and memorable hooks.
Anticipate a dancefloor spectacle where glittering costumes and catchy choruses reign supreme. Euro-disco's influence echoes through contemporary pop music, proving that its infectious spirit continues to shape the sonic landscape of today.

Hi-NRG

If you're seeking a disco subgenre that takes the tempo to new heights, look no further than Hi-NRG. Born in the late 1970s and thriving in the '80s, Hi-NRG elevated the BPM (beats per minute) to create a pulsating, high-energy sound. Artists like Donna Summer and Patrick Cowley spearheaded this movement, delivering electrifying tracks that set dancefloors ablaze.
Prepare for relentless beats, soaring vocals and an overall sense of euphoria as Hi-NRG takes you on a sonic rollercoaster. This subgenre's impact extends beyond disco, influencing the development of electronic dance music (EDM) and setting the stage for the energetic sounds of the 1990s and beyond.

Nu-disco

As disco gracefully evolved into the 21st century, a new subgenre emerged—Nu-Disco. Drawing inspiration from its predecessors while infusing modern production techniques, Nu-Disco pays homage to the classic disco sound while embracing contemporary electronic elements. Daft Punk and Todd Terje are a few of many artists who played pivotal roles in bringing Nu-Disco to the forefront of the dance music scene.
This genre opens your ears to a fusion of funky basslines, glittering synths and a distinctly modern sheen. Nu-Disco serves as a bridge between disco's storied past and its future, creating a space where the dancefloor remains a vibrant and ever-evolving entity.

Space disco

In the cosmic realm of Space Disco, the dancefloor becomes a starship, and the beats transcend earthly boundaries. Emerging in the late 1970s, Space Disco combines the futuristic sounds of synthesizers with disco's rhythmic pulse, creating a sonic journey that feels otherworldly. Artists like Cerrone and Space echo the genre's celestial aspirations.
Prepare for cosmic soundscapes, pulsating basslines and interstellar adventure. Space Disco captures the imagination, transporting listeners to a dancefloor that exists beyond the confines of our planet.

Disco polo

Hailing from Poland, Disco Polo is a genre that marries the upbeat rhythms of disco with Polish folk influences. Originating in the late 1980s, Disco Polo became a cultural phenomenon, dominating dancefloors and airwaves in Poland. Characterised by catchy melodies, simple lyrics and infectious beats, Disco Polo embodies the spirit of celebration.
Disco Polo brings a unique flavour to the disco scene, creating a lively and cheerful atmosphere. This subgenre remains deeply ingrained in Polish music culture, evolving over the years while maintaining its distinctive charm.

Afro-disco

As disco grooves travelled the globe, they found a home in the rhythmic traditions of Africa, giving birth to Afro-disco. This subgenre infuses disco's danceable elements with the rich textures of African percussion and instrumentation.
On the Afro-disco dancefloor, infectious rhythms collide with soulful vocals, producing an atmosphere that celebrates the interconnectedness of musical traditions. Afro-disco remains a testament to disco's ability to adapt and embrace diverse influences.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter