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My View: An ode to the time when disco was king

By Ron Gawel

It all really started in 1977 after the now-iconic film treasure “Saturday Night Fever” was released in theaters across the country. Practically every young buck out there tried to capture the cool persona and imitate the cocky swagger of a young, slender John Travolta. He convincingly brought Tony to the big screen in that movie classic.

I realized then a hugely important aspect of my very existence was being dramatized on the big screen and to the high-stepping music of the Bee Gees no less – songs that penetrated my many inner moods of hope, love and desire – my very being! Lyrics to tunes I lived, or tried hard to. Songs that chilled me with anticipation, encouragement and enthusiasm.

Recently, while driving in my Jeep Wrangler I had just finished listening to the soundtrack from the above-mentioned film. I could easily picture in my mind the idyllic Manhattan skyline scene as that track blared in my vehicle. It took me back to another time, another place. Was it really so long ago that the music of the late ’70s and early ’80s rocked me – when the disco era came full circle to anyone who could barely resist listening to the wondrous awakening of a whole new enlightening sound?

I can remember when TGIF used to mean something to me – way back when I was 20- or 30-something and the high point of the week was hitting the bar-hopping scene.

It began upon returning home on a Friday afternoon frazzled from a disquieting day of what were at times treacherous substitute teaching duties. During a long day that seemed to drag, I somehow managed to muddle through, not at all wanting to be there and anxiously watching the clock to toll 3, at which time I’d scoot out and rush home to begin the process of “getting ready,” which involved slithering into my tight-fitting, flare-bottomed pants and snug, open-collared dress shirt and my “cool” leather jacket. I would head out with two main drinking buddies, starting with some brews at the Hitching Post or Coat of Arms and chilling to the sounds of Gino Vanelli or Earth, Wind and Fire.

“Night Fever” got into high gear somewhere around 11:30, when we thought we were ready for anything. Perhaps semi-sloshed or slowly making our way down the road to inebriation, we moved on to more mixed-crowd establishments like The Bakery, J.P. Morgan’s, Cousin’s Lounge or The Library. We were looking for love in what at times seemed like all the wrong places. Faces sparkled with the hope of getting down and dirty on the dance floor to the vibrant sounds of KC and the Sunshine Band, Donna Summer or to a rapturous love ballad by Barry White as we sat, mesmerized and tantalized, looking at all the wonderful women surrounding us. It all went down as games were played and glances were subtly exchanged across a drama-filled establishment.

I can still hear the memorable lyrical tunes of the Bee Gees – familiar love songs that could melt and rile with passion and enthusiasm even the most macho guys – songs echoing throughout the hallowed walls of pretty much non-existent favorite night haunts of mine all only memories now of a bygone era.

Where did they all disappear to? Those shimmering clubs are silent now, lost somewhere in time and space but which at one time catered to the whims among a lost crowd of music fans during that great period in history when disco ruled.

Ron Gawel, a retired teacher, lives in Niagara Falls with his wife, Eileen, and enjoys writing about his recollections from another time

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