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Disco defies death. Over forty years after the so-called “death of disco,” disco music is everywhere. From Donna Summer to Beyoncé, disco is on the radio, in the clubs, and on the dance floor. This conference brings together scholars of disco/dance music, industry professionals, and dance activists to discuss disco’s history, present, and future. We are especially interested in exploring disco’s disruptive potential. How does disco confuse strict categorizations of gender, race, and sexuality? How does it blur the lines between high and low culture? How does its insistence on decadence both play into and disrupt the logics of capitalism? What were, and are the economics of disco in the music industry?


This conference will take place at the University of Exeter Penryn Campus in the UK. The conference will take place July 5-6th, 2024. Parts of the conference will be available virtually.





Louis Niebur is the interim department chair of Theatre & Dance and a Professor of Musicology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He received his Ph.D. in musicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. His research areas include avant-garde and popular music of the postwar era, including music in radio, television, and film, and the significance of music to LGBTQ communities as it has shifted between live music, the jukebox, and the disc jockey in the context of queer spaces. He has delivered and published papers on such topics as San Francisco’s proto-queercore and post-disco scenes, the history of Camp Records and other gay recording labels of the 1960s, electronic television and radio music and sound in Britain, the role of women in early electronic music studios, and the queer function of electronic sound production in electronic dance music. His book, Special Sound: The Creation and Legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Oxford University Press, 2010), was the first monograph to situate the BBC’s electronic studio within the context of popular music. His most recent book, Menergy: San Francisco’s Gay Disco Sound (Oxford University Press, 2022), traces the way disco and high energy dance music channeled the spirit of gay liberation through a shared dance-floor experience.

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Frankie Elyse is a standout figure in the Scottish electronic music scene, boasting a multifaceted role as a BBC broadcaster, event promoter, and the creator of a seriously catchy, high-energy sound. She's got a track record that speaks volumes, having played some of the biggest stages in the country, such as TRNSMT, Terminal V, and El Dorado. Frankie's even shared the spotlight with renowned artists like Annie Mac, Ben Hemsley, and HAAi.


Looking ahead to the rest of 2024, Frankie continues to grow her beloved Glasgow club night, Polka Dot Disco Club. It's not just about the music — this event series champions and empowers women, trans, and non-binary DJs. Frankie Elyse's warm and magnetic presence has made her a favorite in Scotland's music scene, and her passion for fostering inclusivity is shining through.



LIvestream schedule:

“DJs of 1970s New York”

Featuring DJ Luis Mario Orellana Rizzo and DJ Ronnie Soares

July 5 – 7am MDT / 9am EDT / 2pm BST

"Disco's Afterlives: From the 1980s to Today"

Featuring DJ Frankie Elyse, co-founder of the Scotland-based Polka Dot Disco Club, a collective of women, trans, and nonbinary DJs

July 5- 8:45am MDT / 10:45am EDT / 3:45 BST

“(This Ain’t) Nodisco: How a Changing Disco Sound Divided and United Queer Dance Scenes in the Late 1970s”

Dr. Louis Nieber, University of Nevada Reno, author of Menergy: San Francisco’s Gay Disco Sound

July 6 - 8:45am MDT / 10:45am EDT / 3:45 BST



Stayin Alive: The Many Afterlives of Disco will take place in Penryn, Cornwall.


Travel By Air:

The nearest airport to Penryn is Newquay (Cornwall). The biggest international airports relatively nearby are London (five hours from Penryn by train) and Bristol (four hours by train). 


To get from Newquay Airport to Penryn, you can take a taxi for roughly £70.

Alternatively, you can take the 56 bus to Newquay train station. From there, travel by train from Newquay to Par, from Par to Truro, and finally from Truro to Penryn or Falmouth (both destinations are on the same train line). Train tickets from Newquay to Penryn or Penmere station (in Falmouth)/Falmouth docks (depending on where you are staying) can be bought on the Great Western Railway website: Buy in advance, as train prices on the day are very expensive in the UK.


Travel By Train: 

There is a train station a 5-10 minute walk away from the Penryn campus. London is 5 hours away by train. Bristol is 4 hours away by train.


Travel By Bus:

The least expensive way to travel to Penryn from within the UK is via the National Express Bus ( 


Traveling Between Penryn and Falmouth:

Penryn and Falmouth are both small towns, which are more or less connected as a destination. Walking from Falmouth to the Penryn campus takes just under an hour.


The U1, U2 and U3 buses travel from Falmouth, through Penryn, to the Penryn campus.


A taxi ride is roughly 10-15 minutes between the two towns. The following are some phone numbers for taxi services in Falmouth and Penryn:

Abacus & Falmouth Taxis: 01326 212141

Checkers Taxis: 01326 212127.

Falmouth & Penryn Radio Taxis: 01326 313131


Cornwall Airport Newquay

University of Exeter, Penryn Campus




The University of Exeter Penryn campus is located in Penryn, Cornwall. Participants can stay in Penryn or in nearby Falmouth. Both Falmouth and Penryn have a selection of picturesque hotels and B&Bs. If you wish to book these, it is recommended to do this sooner than later as Cornwall is a popular holiday destination in July.


We can alternatively offer discounted university accommodation for conference presenters and attendees for £55 per room per night (including breakfast). Each room includes either one double bed or two single beds, a private bathroom, a shared living room and kitchen, and free parking. If traveling with a companion, a second breakfast may be added for an additional fee. For images of university of accommodations, click here. 

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