‘The Passion of the Groove’: From Sheila and B. Devotion to Alacazar

Saturday night, we were cruising around Koreatown, listening to Jellybean Benitez “In the Mix” on Sirius’ Studio 54 station. A familiar sound purred through the speakers, rhythmic and ethereal.

“It’s the sample for ‘Crying at the Discoteque!'” I exclaimed. I can’t sing, but tried to mimic the hook, “Crying at the disco-teque.” I failed.

“Crying at the Discoteque” was a huge hit for the Swedish pop group Alcazar over a decade ago. It was produced by Alexander Bard, whose dance pop genius can be found all over the work of Army of Lovers. However, “the power of the groove,” as mentioned in the song, largely came in the form of a sample from “Spacer” by Sheila and B. Devotion. That’s the song we heard on the radio, in its Chic-produced, space disco glory. I don’t have a vinyl copy of “Spacer,” but I should because it’s sends chills up my spine whenever I hear it.

Sheila is a French singer with roots in France’s yé-yé scene of the 1960s. By the ’70s, she had gone disco with the group Sheila and B. Devotion. Her 1980 album, King of the World was written and produced by Chic’s Nile Rodgers and the late, great Bernard Edwards. “Spacer,” which is featured on the album, came out as a single the year prior.

“Spacer” encapsulates everything I love about disco. It was, at that time, the future of the dance floor, a future that was nearly obliterated by fun-haters who probably had no sense of rhythm. (Thank goodness for the DJs and fans who kept the disco beat going al these years.)

In the video shown here,  sci-fi romance mixes with silver jumpsuits, batons that occasionally resemble light sabers and now-antiquated visual effects. It’s over-the-top and incredibly dated, but still so awe-inspiring.

Ugh, I want this 12″ so badly.

As for the Alcazar track, if you never heard it, you should. It’s a love letter to disco with Sheila at the center, referenced not just in the sample but in those sparkly silver outfits. The video is so ridiculous that I can’t help but watch it whenever I’m in a bad mood.

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