A discothèque, diskoˈtɛk̚, compare the Spanish "discoteca", is an entertainment venue or club with recorded music played by "Discaires" (Disc jockeys) through a PA system, rather than an on-stage band. The word derives from the French word discothèque (a type of nightclub). Discothèque is a portmanteau coined around 1941 from disc and bibliothèque (library) by La Discothèque, then located on the Rue de la Huchette in Paris, France. Previously, most bars and nightclubs used live bands as entertainment.
Record labels feverishly rushed out whole albums of music to monkey or limbo by, or else mimicked the discotheque effect by assembling compilations of everything from the foxtrot to the boogaloo. Dance instructors got in on the act, releasing LPs such " Killer Joe's International Discotheque.
In the 1966 Batman TV Series, episode 16 (He meets his match, the grisly ghoul), the school playing against Robin's school in the basketball game is named "Disko Tech".
Some cities had disco dance instructors or dance schools which taught people how to do popular disco dances such as "touch dancing", the "hustle" and the "cha cha." There were also disco fashions that discotheque-goers wore for nights out at their local disco, such as sheer, flowing Halston dresses for women and shiny polyester Qiana shirts for men with pointy collars, preferably open at the chest, often worn with double-knit suit jackets.
In addition to the dance and fashion aspects of the disco club scene, there was also a thriving drug subculture, particularly for drugs that would enhance the experience of dancing to the loud music and the flashing lights, such as cocaine (nicknamed "blow"), amyl nitrite "poppers" , and the "...other quintessential 1970s club drug Quaalude, which suspended motor coordination and turned one’s arms and legs to Jell-O. The massive quantities of drugs ingested in discotheques by newly liberated gay men produced the next cultural phenomenon of the disco era: rampant promiscuity and public sex. While the dance floor was the central arena of seduction, actual sex usually took place in the nether regions of the disco: bathroom stalls, exit stairwells, and so on. In other cases the disco became a kind of “main course” in a hedonist’s menu for a night out.
Famous 1970s discotheques included "...cocaine-filled celeb hangouts such as Manhattan's Studio 54 ", which was operated by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. Studio 54 was notorious for the hedonism that went on within; the balconies were known for sexual encounters, and drug use was rampant. Its dance floor was decorated with an image of the "Man in the Moon" that included an animated cocaine spoon. Other famous discotheques included the Loft, the Paradise Garage, and Aux Puces, one of the first gay disco bars.
In Britain, a 'disco' is usually now a one-off night of dancing and music organised my a non-professional (or semi-professional) DJ at an institution such as a school or workplace.
The term disco, which is a shortened form of discothèque, refers to a specific style of pop music that was derived in U.S.A. from funk and soul, and to the dance styles popular in 1970s disco clubs (e.g., "The Hustle"). In Europe the same term used for the European Disco productions, that had 50s and 60s Europop influences. Later, those European productions (mostly Italian and German) were named "Euro Disco" and "Disco" was only used for the U.S.A. productions.