In Pakistan, there are several categories of what we understand by disco. In the broadest sense, it can come to mean something like this image, which is one of the first that comes up when you search for “Pakistani Disco” on Google Images.
When Pakistanis use the word disco in this sense, they mean anything which is outside the norm, generally in a liberal or subversive sense. One example was leftist students calling ‘westernised’ members of the Jamiat as ‘disco maulvis‘.
(If you live in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Karachi, then disco also means the place where you get chai ke paapay from, but lets keep that aside for now.)
In a musical sense, particularly in the early days (and even now), disco was also meant as the usage of western style of music by local singers. Over time, the term ‘pop’ became more popular instead, but as this album cover shows, it was a catch-all phrase for modern, western sounds.
But most specifically, when we think of disco and Pakistani music, we really think of one, eternally beautiful and beloved singer.
This week, Salt Arts and Patari are looking to develop this connection a little bit further. Our campaign, #bringingdiscoback, looks to recapture the excitement and glamour that disco brought both as a musical movement, but also as a moment in cultural and social history.
You can start getting into the mood by listening to our essential collection of Pakistani disco tracks. The songs here cover the early, proto-disco sounds emerging from film playback singers, through to the early PTV era pop-stars, the supernova of disco music that were Nazia and Zoheb, and finally the evolution of the sound in the 90s and the current era.
All the songs culminate with the online exclusive release of Zoe Viccaji‘s latest, disconuma track, Jaanay Do. A song that both captures a bygone era and electrifies it into a contemporary sound, this is the latest in a proud tradition of Pakistani disco. As one of the country’s most popular and delightful singers, Zoe is poised and ready to start #bringingdiscoback.