Montreal’s famed disco scene cranked out many disco stars during its 1970s heyday and the scene’s epicentre was the city’s famed Lime Light disco founded by Yvon Lafrance in September 1973, on Stanley Street above where the Chez Paree strip joint stands today.
Montreal DJ Robert Ouimet was the house deejay at the Lime Light from 1973 to 1981, and today Yvon Lafrance says Ouimet – known worldwide as the Godfather of Montreal Disco – was hands-down the best deejay in Canada from 1973 to 1982, when Ouimet was declared best North American DJ by Rolling Stone magazine in 1976, and won Billboard magazine’s DJ of the Year Award in 1977.
“I used to go to New York all the time during the week – I remember I was flown over there once for the premiere of (the movie) Thank God It’s Friday (starring Donna Summer),” Ouimet told me in 2013. “Then I used to work in Montreal on the weekends.”
|Disco diva France Joli (Photo by David A Lee)|
Meanwhile, Montreal singer France Joli became an “overnight success” at the age of 16 back on July 7, 1979, when she headlined a legendary beach concert performance for 5,000 gay men now famously known as Beach ’79.
Donna Summer had cancelled at the last minute, so Joli stepped in as a replacement and sang her song Come to Me, which would chart at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart – then at #1 on the disco chart – and to this day the song is widely-known as “the definitive Fire Island dance classic.”
“I was blown away, I was a kid and had never seen gay life like that before, it was beautiful to see two men embracing – and it was 1979!” France Joli told me in 2013. “I loved that freedom and the happiness that disco reflected. It’s impossible not to be happy and dance to disco. The lyrics could be dark, but the music always lifted you up.”
Both Ouimet and Joli will take part in the Québec Électrique: Montréal Discoville event at the Paradoxe Theatre as part of the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy conference being held in Montreal.