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The increase in available leisure time in the 1960s (the average working week reduced by nearly 10 hours a week post-WWII) afforded greater freedom.

One form of entertainment that arrived to fill this new leisure time, and appealed particularly to young people, was the discotheque.

These jazzed-up dance halls provided not only the opportunity to hear the records of the latest pop stars and let out ‘generation-gap’ frustrations on the dance floor, but also the chance to show off (and see) the latest fashions and to learn the new dance routines from the demonstrating “go-go” girls

The first discotheque opened in London in 1961. The atmosphere was radically different from that of a traditional dance hall. There was dancing to records played by a DJ, rather than to an orchestra, big band or other live music.

As the discotheque scene went wild in the Sixties, handfuls of publicity leaflets were given away to passers-by in Central London advertising the latest “in” place to dance – some with stylish topical designs.

Westminster City Council banned them in 1970 as they were causing a litter problem.

The first real American discotheque, the Whisky-A-Go-Go, opened on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles on 11 January 1963. The proprietor was Elmer Valentine, a former policeman from Chicago.


In August 1968, Dr David M Lipscomb, director of the University of Tennessee Audio Lab, reported that a guinea pig subjected to 88 hours of music recorded in a discotheque suffered acute inner ear damage.

Steve Paul, owner of New York discotheque The Scene, told the New York Times; “Should a major increase in guinea pig attendance occur at The Scene, we’ll certainly bear their comfort in mind”.