THE 1970s: Disco, Drugs & Distance Running


When I completed the portraits of our seventies disco queen I never thought the story that would develop for these photos would be about an exercise enthusiast. For readers out there who have followed this blog, you are aware of my obsession with the seventies era. When I picture that period I always think about the parties, the disco music; the whole scene. When I was asked to do a look for this time in history, I thought for sure the story that would follow would be about drugs, sex or music.

Sometimes when I write these stories I like to incorporate feelings from my own life. Over the summer I’ve been running about 3 times a week and while at first it started off as a painful obligation, there reaches a point where the pain goes away. You realize you are starting to get in shape and the distance you set out for yourself seems like a walk in the park. The best part of it comes when you complete your distance goal. You walk home after the run and you feel like you are walking high above the clouds and the high stays with you throughout the day. I started to feel that runner’s high after about a month into it. I remember one morning specifically where I walked home after my morning run and the warmth on my face was instantly cooled by the early morning breeze. My whole body felt fit and the six kilometers I ran just weren’t enough.


Back to my vintage writing, I wanted to incorporate a story about running somehow into the blog. When I did a little research on the history of running, I discovered that running became a huge trend in the seventies in the United States. Not that running was a new concept; evolution has made humans natural born runners. Historically, running is deep rooted in our instincts. It is an automatic reaction when we are afraid, it is a sport which tackles our competitive nature and in the last few decades, starting with the seventies, it is a leisure activity that millions of people enjoy.

While I perhaps had looked at this period in a stereotypical way, what I have recently learned is that despite the nightlife lifestyle that was enjoyed by many in this era, there was also the component of freedom to live the lifestyle you desired. Women for example no longer had to be the housewife, which was common in the fifties and early sixties. They had the liberty of pursuing what they enjoyed. Whether it was a dance at the disco, a career or a morning run, women could be what they wanted to be.


What I cherish most about this blog is that with every decade I research within Western history I learn something more about women. The struggles they faced and how in each decade another layer of individuality is uncovered as opposed to the enforced social conventions of previous years. In her story she has her running while her roommates have their disco club. Their lifestyles are different, but each is in pursuit of what they crave.