This nondescript vestige of a once famous club, now fading into memory, is none other than the former Odyssey 2001 of “Saturday Night Fever.” Renamed the Spectrum, it closed on February 12, 2005 and is soon to be demolished, as reported in the NY Times. This is where “disco fever” was celebrated and filmed amidst the blare of pump-up-the-volume music and glare of mesmerizing lights as sleek and seductive Brooklyn kids danced the night away.
Located at 802 64th Street, artists such as Gloria Gaynor and Double Exposure made it the “IN ” place to be for those living mainly in the southwestern part of Brooklyn (Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, etc.). While New York City lingered in its most severe financial recession, the first oil crisis plagued motorists and would change the nation’s economy forever, and the crazed Son of Sam wandered the streets, the dancing and music continued on…seemingly forever and with a fatalistic frenzy.
The real name of Saturday Night Fever’s real life hero, however, wasn’t the fictional Tony Manero (as portrayed by John Travolta in the film) but a young man by the name of Eugene Robinson. He worked in a neighborhood supermarket but every weekend would dazzle everyone with his energetic and impassioned dancing at the Odyssey 2001. Like Travolta’s character, he drew everyone’s attention, including the attention of Nik Cohn a freelance writer who decided to write a series on Robinson.
The series grew into a history entitled “The Tribal Rites Of The New Saturday Night” which Cohn sold to New York Magazine. Eventually Paramount bought the story, changing the title to “Saturday Night Fever” and casting John Travolta (already popular in TV’s “Welcome Back Kotter“) and renaming him Tony Manero. The film, of course, went on to become a smash hit and is now considered a cinematic legend. The same can’t be said for the Odyssey 2001: the real places, persons and things that inspire our legends often lack the lasting value of the very legends they help to create.
- ‘John Travolto’: Italy’s very own FAKE John Travolta! (dangerousminds.net)