Dark days and disco memories

Thanks to the ‘evil years’ of South Africa’s internal unrest (amounting to an intermittent civil war situation in many parts of the country), from 1976 through 1994, I didn’t have the kind of life that most young people today would regard as ‘normal’.  I’ve written about some aspects of it in the past.

One of the things I remember about those years is the music.  South Africa’s hit parade was weird.  Among the usual US and European groups and their international hits, you’d find something like Juluka singing about ‘Mud Colored Dusty Blood‘ – a bus massacre in the eastern Cape.  Songs about mass murder reaching the hit parade?  Shows how seriously warped South Africa’s consciousness was at that time.

Be that as it may, one of the most popular disco groups in South Africa was Boney M.  It always struck me as incongruous that an all-black group could be so popular among the white community, but that was just another facet of our country during those seriously weird years.

I was reminded of Boney M. by this post over at Legal Insurrection, where the author confesses he was a big fan of the group when he studied in Moscow.  He says they had a huge following there, and posted this video of their hit ‘Rasputin‘, performed at a disco festival in Russia some years ago, to prove it.  Certainly, the Russian dancers lend an exotic air to it – and the thousands of fans seem to be having a great time.  Watch it in full-screen mode for best results.

It’s ironic that when ‘Rasputin’ first came out, the Soviet Union banned it on the grounds that it disrespected their history and culture!  I guess the Russian people decided that didn’t matter.  After all, the real Rasputin was every bit as disreputable as the song implied.

I know many people today, particularly those born after the disco era, won’t have heard of Boney M. at all.  For their benefit (and because they bring back many memories), here are two more of the group’s biggest hits.  First, the song that gave them their breakthrough, ‘Daddy Cool‘.

Next, a song drawn from America’s criminal history, ‘Ma Baker‘.

They seem so dated now . . . but back then, we grooved to them.  (Yes, even an old fart like me was once a groover!)



  1. Interesting presentation… Lots of dancing moves, and the Ma Baker one is strange, that they would pick an American criminal for a song…LOL

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