If she had her druthers, my mother might have tracked down and married Tony Manero just to become his permanent dance partner.
A complicated story, it is not. But in the tale of Saturday Night Fever is something every one of us can relate to at some point or another.
John Travolta, as Tony, is a peacock on amphetamines. Honest, cool, goofy, conflicted, and overflowing with talent. But in spite of all of his gifts, he isn’t recognised by the people who should recognise him, like his family. His friends think he’s a hero – but they’re all macho idiots that eventually disappoint him anyway.
The entire film may as well exist in a parallel universe, devoid of any concerns beyond winning a local dance competition, or becoming lost in the endless gaze of the eyes of your dance partner ~ now that sounds awfully familiar…
It’s just so easy to imagine yourself being lead around the multi-coloured dance floor by the veritable White Knight with all the right moves.
The whole routine starts off with a dramatic dip, casually followed by several interlocking turns, until finally they close up in perfect harmony. They own the floor. They’re surrounded by mesmerised fans that may as well not exist for all they know. The chemistry is pure alchemy. The rapport is palpable. Another dip, the spinning embrace, followed by a passionate kiss, the steady gaze, the pregnant pause, the knowing smile breaking the building tension, finished off by a confident walk off, his lady in tow. Just watch it. It’s magic.
But what really transports us deep within that mythical realm, is the music of the Bee Gees.
The soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever is a perpetual fountain of joy. The music is so inexorably synonymous with the film itself, it begs the question: could anyone have ever really caught Saturday Night Fever without the Bee Gees?
Which brings us to Robin Gibb. Music historian Paul Gambaccini described Gibb as “one of the major figures in the history of British music” and “one of the best white soul voices ever”, while he noted that the Bee Gees were “second only to Lennon and McCartney as the most successful songwriting unit in British popular music”.
It seems like this month, Disco, really is dying, and that is really sad. It isn’t for everyone, and I by no means am any more than a casual listener – but there’s no denying the groovy moves, the stirring happiness, and the tantalising fantasy those swinging tunes have inspired.
Groove on, Robin Gibb (1949 – 2012)