Saturday Night fever was one of the biggest films ever.
It was responsible for making the disco craze a worldwide phenomenon.
It made John Travolta one of the biggest stars on the planet.
It turned the Beegees music into one of the best selling soundtracks of all time.
Three decades later the images are still iconic.
The story is about a working class Italian-American from Brooklyn.
He’s a great dancer, Tony Manero.
In fact, he lives for nothing but clothes and dancing.
All week he works in a dead end job in a hardware store.
He lives with his parents because he spends every penny he gets on clothes.
But at night, he becomes the King of Brooklyn.
All the girls fall at his feet because of his looks, his clothes, his ability to dance.
But mainly because he is the coolest person in the city.
He can have any girl he wants.
Everyone wanted to dance like John Travolto.
The film took the disco sensation out of Brooklyn and spread it worldwide.
Because until that time no one knew about the huge disco scene in Brooklyn.
Actually the main reason no one knew about the huge disco scene in Brooklyn is there wasn’t one.
It didn’t exist, it was made up.
The entire phenomenon, the film, the Beegees’ record sales, John Travolto’s career, were based on a lie.
What happened was as follows.
The movie Saturday Night Fever was based on an article in New York Magazine about youth culture in Brooklyn.
The article was called “Tribal Rites Of the New Saturday Night”.
It had been written by an English rock journalist called Nick Cohn.
Nick Cohn was in New York looking for work.
New York Magazine had commissioned him to write an article about youth culture in Brooklyn.
Nick Cohn knew nothing about Brooklyn, he hadn’t even been there.
He’d only been in New York a few weeks.
But if he told them that he wouldn’t get the job, and he needed the money.
So he told the magazine, oh yes he knew all about Brooklyn’s youth culture, and started writing.
He started writing from what he did actually know.
And what he knew about was London.
He knew all about the mod scene in the 1960s.
And particularly he knew about a young mod from Shepherds Bush.
A mod that was so cool he walked down The Goldhawk Road at night like he owned it.
A mod that worked by day in a dead end job, and lived with his mum and dad.
Because he spent every penny he got on clothes.
He looked fantastic and was the coolest thing in the west London.
All the girls used to fall at his feet.
Cohn thought that would transfer easily to New York.
None of the editorial staff at New York Magazine had probably ever been to Brooklyn either.
He could write pretty much whatever he liked about it, they’d never know.
So Nick Cohn wrote the article.
All he had to do was change a few things.
Change scooters for cars.
Change cockney for Italian American.
Both groups were working class, and like all young men they thought mainly about sex.
All he had to do was transpose the music, the dancing, and the clothes.
The article was such a hit that it was turned into the movie Saturday Night Fever.
And the rest we all know.
What Cohn had was a really good idea.
It really didn’t matter so very much whether it was true or not.
Once it took off, it became real.
In fact by that time reality didn’t even matter.
It must be real because they made a movie out of it.
It must be real because how could they make a movie about the Brooklyn disco scene if it didn’t even exist?
And that movie made John Travolta’s career, and The Beegees’ careers, and more importantly Nick Cohn’s career.
As Churchill said “Never let the truth spoil a good story.”