The pandemic disco

Trauma and hope during the COVID-19 crisis


  • Konrad Sierzputowski Jagiellonian University



COVID-19, Queer, Disco, AIDS, Archive


The COVID-19 crisis has brought unprecedented disruption to the social and economic status quo and has redefined music culture. The sudden shift from a collective to an exclusively private music experience has undoubtedly changed both the market and listening practices. Live shows and club culture have been suspended. However, while disco clubs remain closed, private apartments become the only possible dancefloor. Surprisingly, nostalgic disco albums have been very popular among listeners during the past coronavirus year. Artists like Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware, Róisín Murphy and Kylie Minogue have presented disco utopias that have carried the listeners into a world before pandemic. Although disco albums are full of joyful synthesizer sounds, they also resonate with trauma from the past. At their core we can find traces of another epidemic that never came to an end: the HIV/AIDS epidemic. My goal is to show continuity between musical responses to different pandemics and to interpret the side effects of the (pre) COVID disco nostalgia, which, while giving hope, reminds us that HIV/AIDS is not yet a closed case.

Author Biography

Konrad Sierzputowski, Jagiellonian University

Konrad Sierzputowski is a researcher at the Faculty of Polish Studies of the Jagiellonian University. His research oscillates around the history of popular music, sound studies and queer theory. Since 2015, he has been the main organizer of the annual popular music studies conference ‘MUTE’. In 2018, he published his first book Słuchając hologramu. Cielesność wirtualnych zespołów animowanych [Listening to the Holograms: Corporeality of Virtual Animated Bands] (2018).


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Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia (Urban Records, 2020).

Jessie Ware, What’s Your Pleasure? (Abbey Road Studio, 2020).

Kylie Minogue, DISCO (Liberator Music, 2020).

Lady Gaga, Chromatica (Interscope Records, 2020).

Róisín Murphy, Róisín Machine (Parrot, 2020).



How to Cite

Sierzputowski, K. . (2021). The pandemic disco: Trauma and hope during the COVID-19 crisis. Popular Music History, 14(1), 42–59.