Classic disco has been part of The Dallenger’s Friday format for eons. But with Saturday Night Fever opening on Broadway last week and the Bee Gees’ songs now being played on the radio after decades of exile, certainly this and other nights like it could turn into the next cash cow in nightclubs. It just takes that ’90s touch.
Like a rap version of “How Deep Is Your Love.” And an Armani label on the white nylon suit that John Travolta made famous. Even a guy like Gianni Liberatore, who was having a drink at the bar and yakking about the clothes he once wore, could be twirling under a disco ball once again. He brags that he dances better than Denny Terio.
But Liberatore is a smart man. He recalls that dancing wasn’t the only nightclub activity in the late ’70s and early ’80s. There was sex, and there was cocaine—lots of cocaine. “Everybody used to go to the bathroom with the bartender and give him a bag of coke and get free drinks all night,” says the 38-year-old, who now lives in Florida. “That was the thing.”
Back then, Liberatore was living in Brooklyn and going to clubs like Studio 54 with a large group of people. Of the scenesters he knew, he estimates, 70 percent ended up with a drug problem.
Sex didn’t have as huge a price tag as the addictive white powder. The boys, he says, used to do it with women right in their cars. Lincoln Continentals, with their roomy back seats, were as popular as SUVs are today. And AIDS wasn’t yet known. “We never used to use rubbers or condoms,” he says. “Now they sell condoms in the bathroom.” Liberatore doubts that the retro sex practices will be part of any ’70s comeback. Retro can be carried too far.
The Dallenger Garden City Hotel, Garden City 516-248-4100.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 2, 1999