My wife had never seen the movie Saturday Night Fever, so a couple of weekends ago, I made the mistake of playing the DVD for her. It wasn’t a mistake because of the quality of the movie; on the contrary, this story of a working-class Italian youth in Brooklyn trying to break free of a dead-end life through dancing is a hard-hitting drama that does not shy away from some pretty gritty topics. The movie touches on racism, faith, poverty, and feminism. There is sex and violence and death. It’s not all white polyester suits and thumping disco music.
But a lot of it is white polyester suits and thumping disco music, and that’s the mistake I am referring to. Because it sucks me right in, every single time I watch that movie.
It all starts out innocently enough. Some mild toe tapping a few hours after the movie has ended. Humming “You Should Be Dancing” beneath my breath. That sort of thing. The next morning, I’ll be lathering up in the shower, and find myself singing “Jive Talkin’.” From there, it’s all downhill. I find myself belting out “If I Can’t Have You” on the drive to work. (I don’t want nobody, baby). Then suddenly I’m compiling an iTunes playlist called “Polyester Nights” and downloading all the Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Village People, and Tavares songs I can find. After work I’m blasting my new disco mix loud enough to shake the walls and make the neighbors think they’ve stepped into a time warp, circa 1978 while cooking dinner. Tara walks in just as I’m crooning “Well you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time for talk” in a shrill falsetto, and stops dead in her tracks. But the party is in full swing, cats, and I’ve got a case of Tuesday night fever, so I grab her hand and spin her around the room. We’re doing The Hustle, or what I perceive to be The Hustle, though it’s really just some sorry little dance in which I shake my hips a lot and do that patented Travolta finger-in-the-air disco move.
All this, because we watched the movie once, two weeks ago.
Last weekend we watched The Godfather, but I haven’t been walking around with a mouth full of marbles going “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse” ever since. Why am I so obsessed with Saturday Night Fever, then?
I dunno. But it’s been the case for as long as I can remember. I unashamedly loved disco when I was little, and I unashamedly love disco now. During my first wedding, I surprised the wife by prearranging a Bee Gees number with the DJ that involved me stripping off my tux, Tony Manero style, and flinging it across the room while striking the Saturday Night pose. She was mortified, and that may quite possibly be the reason why our marriage crashed and burned. Mindful of this, I avoided any disco surprises last September when Tara and I tied the knot, though I did ask her – quite seriously – whether she’d be interested in taking disco dancing lessons together a few days ago.
See? I become a little obsessed.
Or a lot obsessed, judging by all this new music on my iPod. Kelly Marie? Sylvester? The Trammps? Thelma Houston? George McCrae? Chic? This can’t be. I’m an indie rock guy. Where are my Moondoggies? My Blitzen Trapper? Where are my Fleet Foxes and Shins?!
I guess it shouldn’t come as any big surprise, looking around the townhouse. After all, there are a dozen lava lamps. A Pet Rock. Owls and mushrooms and peace signs. Harvest gold kitchen appliances. A turntable inside a wooden record cabinet. Macrame. It’s as though the 70s came to visit and never left. It only stands to reason that I’d find the music groovy, too.
I’m sure it’ll all pass soon enough. The disco beat will fade, the violins and synthesizers and cowbells giving way once more to acoustic guitars and banjos as I rediscover mellow, introspective music sung by men in beards.
In the meantime…
Here I am, prayin’ for this moment to last.
Livin’ on the music so fine. Borne on the wind.
Making it mine.