CATEGORIES On the Scene

The film that launched a million leisure suits, John Badham's 'Saturday Night Fever' will forever be linked to the 1970s as both a chronicler of our culture's social mores and cultural benchmark. Based on the supposedly real profiles featured in "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night," a 1975 article for New York magazine that writer Nik Cohn would later admit was fabricated, the film focuses on Tony Manero (John Travolta) a 19-year old blue-collar kid who lives to dance in the club. His outlet: 2001 Odyssey, a real nightclub that provided the setting for the film's most famous scenes. Looking back, it's hard to picture Tony without seeing the gaudy, garish Brooklyn club. We look back on its history.
The film that launched a million leisure suits, John Badham's 'Saturday Night Fever' will forever be linked to the 1970s as both a chronicler of our culture's social mores and cultural benchmark. Based on the supposedly real profiles featured in 'Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,' a 1975 article for New York magazine that writer Nik Cohn would later admit was fabricated, the film focuses on Tony Manero (John Travolta) a 19-year old blue-collar kid who lives to dance in the club. His outlet: 2001 Odyssey, a real nightclub that provided the setting for the film's most famous scenes. Looking back, it's hard to picture Tony without seeing the gaudy, garish Brooklyn club.

Location as Character: Without 2001 Odyssey to provide the flashing lights, smoke machines, illuminated floor and all the other Bar Mitzvah-worthy accoutrements, Tony Manero would be just another working stiff drudging along at a hardware store with nowhere to go on Saturday night. To Tony and others like him, Monday through Friday existed purely to make money to spend on Saturday. The disco itself was as important a character as anyone in the film, and by all accounts was an accurate portrayal of the actual club (half of the film's extras were club regulars).

Historical Significance: Thanks in large part to the scenes at 2001 Odyssey, the movie became a cultural milestone and remains one of the 1970's most influential films. Pre-'Fever,' disco was a type of dance music found mostly in underground New York clubs, but when the movie, and its accompanying Bee Gees-heavy soundtrack, came out, it became the biggest genre in the world. In 1987, 2001 Odyssey became the gay nightclub Spectrum 2000, where it enjoyed an 18-year run before the building was demolished in 2005.




Fun Fact: The lights on the wall and floor were not actually part of Odyssey and were added by production members solely for the film. To achieve the effect, the crew covered the wall in tin foil and used Christmas lights to reflect off of it. Also, look for Fran Drescher's cinematic debut as Connie, one of the girls who dances with Tony at Odyssey.

Directions: While the Odyssey is sadly just a memory, you can still visit its haunting grounds at 802 64th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Bring a subway map. Most New Yorkers don't even know how to get there.

Visitor Info: New Yorkers have long been stereotyped as possessing the classic Italian, "No, how youuuuuu doin?" accent. While 95 percent of New Yorkers talk nothing like this, the other 5 percent live in the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst areas of Brooklyn. Despite healthy populations of Irish, Greek and Scandinavian immigrants, the area will probably never shake its Italian roots.