By the late 1970s, most major U.S. cities had thriving disco club scenes, and DJs would mix dance records at clubs such as Studio 54 in New York City, a venue popular among celebrities. Discothèque-goers often wore expensive, extravagant and sexy fashions. There was also a thriving drugsubculture in the disco scene, particularly for drugs that would enhance the experience of dancing to the loud music and the flashing lights, such as cocaine and Quaaludes, the latter being so common in disco subculture that they were nicknamed "disco biscuits". Disco clubs were also associated with promiscuity as a reflection of the sexual revolution of this era in popular history.
Disco was the last popular music movement driven by the baby boom generation. It began to decline in the United States during 1979-80, and by 1982 it had lost nearly all popularity there. Disco Demolition Night, an anti-disco protest held in Chicago on July 12, 1979, remains the most well-known of several "backlash" incidents across the country that symbolized disco's declining fortune.
The term "disco" is shorthand for the word discothèque, a French word for "library of phonograph records" derived from "bibliothèque". The word "discothèque" was current in the same meaning in English in the 1950s.
"Discothèque" became in use in French as a term for a type of nightclubs in Paris after these had resorted to playing records during the Nazi occupation in the early 1940s. Some clubs used it as their proper name. In 1960 it was also used to describe a Parisian nightclub in an English magazine.
In the summer of 1964 a short sleeveless dress called "discotheque dress" was very popular in the United States for a short time. The earliest known use for the abbreviated form "disco" described this dress and has been found in the Salt Lake Tribune of 12 July 1964, but Playboy magazine used it soon after to describe Los Angeles nightclubs in September of the same year.
Vince Aletti was one of the first to describe disco as a sound or a music genre. He wrote the feature article "Discoteque Rock Paaaaarty" that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in September 1973.