Instant Disco History #12
Ooo-Wah, Ooo-Wah

Ooo-wah, Ooo-wah. How I hated it. That frenzied, bizarre, dance floor chant that arose during peak moments in gay clubs of the 70’s. Ooo-wah, Ooo-wah. Never once in 30-some odd years have I ooo’d or wah’d. Always it would seem to arise during the exact moment of a song I was particularly enjoying, shattering the moment as I gritted my teeth to glare at my partner, letting him know that he was NOT to take part, not ruin my Donna Summer, my Gino Soccio. I still hear it today, on rare occasions, and I still have the same reaction.

Record producers were quick to incorporate the sound, which my straight friends christened the “queer call.” Around 1977, it was not uncommon to hear that cursed sound in a half a dozen songs over the course of evening, So despite my enduring distaste for ooo-wah, ooo-wah, here’s a trio of hit songs that successfully rode the ooo-wah train to chart success.

Michael Zager Band had the biggest ooo-wah club hit with Let’s All Chant, an inane bit of disco puffery with the immortal lyrics, “Your body, my body, everybody move your body.” Zager was a one-hit wonder with Let’s All Chant, although he had lots of success producing other artists such as Whitney Houston’s mom, Cissy. Michael Zager Band – Let’s All Chant (Private Stock Records, 1977) #1 Dance, #15 R&B, #35 Pop. (Download. Stream.)

Foxy, a Miami-based trio that included Tito Puente’s son on percussion, had a smash with Get Off, which still can be heard ooh-wahing around R&B oldies shows. Foxy frontman Ish Ledesma went on to produce some of the biggest hits of the mid-80’s “Miami sound”, including Company B’s Fascinated (which featured his wife and sister-in-law) and Promise Circle’s Be Mine Tonight. Foxy – Get Off (TK Disco/Dash Records, 1978.) #1 Dance, #1 R&B, #9 Pop. (Download. Stream.)

Heatwave gave the world Rod Temperton, writer of many hits for Michael Jackson, Rufus, Brothers Johnson, and many of the other biggest Quincy Jones-produced hits of the 70’s & 80’s, so for that, I forgive The Groove Line, whose ooo-wah, ooh-wah lingered at the top of the charts for most of the summer of 1978. Plus, Heatwave gave us Always And Forever, providing endless karaoke hilarity for the last 30 years. Heatwave – The Groove Line (Epic Records, 1978.) #1 Dance, #3 R&B, #7 Pop. (Download. Stream.)

Previously on JMG:
Instant Disco History #1: Voggue
Instant Disco History #2: Luther Vandross
Instant Disco History #3: Skatt Bros.
Instant Disco History #4: Karen Finley
Instant Disco History #5: Disco Orchestra
Instant Disco History #6: On Broadway
Instant Disco History #7: New York City
Instant Disco History #8: Disco Lucy
Instant Disco History #9: Morning Music
Instant Disco History #10: Don’t Leave Me This Way
Instant Disco History #11: Disco Xmas