“Dance (Disco Heat)” by Sylvester (1978)

1978’s “Dance (Disco Heat)” introduced Sylvester to the American audience at large. Not to say Sylvester was a newbie-he’d been kicking around the music scene for half a decade at this point. But this song crystallized the sound, the iconography, the look that made Sylvester many things; a disco icon, a queer icon, an icon for sexual and personal liberation whose legend has only grown in the forty years since this song’s release and the thirty years since the artist’s death.

Weird then, that Sylvester himself isn’t the primary voice you hear on “Dance”. Sylvester shares the spotlight with his background duo, Two Tons o’ Fun (later to become iconic in their own right as The Weather Girls of “It’s Raining Men” fame). Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes join Sylvester in wailing and testifying. Pull the disco backing out, concentrate on the voices and if you’re not paying close enough attention to the lyrics (or speak another language), your initial assumption would be that they are singing gospel. To me, this puts a fine point on the very thin line between religious ecstasy and orgasm. Tons of tension and release here.

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