DISCO. Many images does this word evoke. There's the music. Dig it. There are the clothes. Polyester. Love it. There's the lifestyle. Sex, drugs, mirror balls, girly hair. And there's the dancing. Work it. Disco was peaking about the time I was born, so it was just passe enough to be a little funny and alternative when I hit the teenage years, and I formed a fondness for it. I even middle-named my daughter Xanadu (before seeing the film, which is TERRIBLE. Luckily that's not the origin of the name so there is some redemption in Samuel Coleridge's poem. But back to disco.)
And of course what one single movie comes to mind when you hear DISCO? What cult classic gives perfect homage to all things DISCO?
A few weeks ago AMC was showing Saturday Night Fever. I'd owned the soundtrack on vinyl years ago, and now own it on cd, but I'd never seen the whole film all the way through. So I sat down to at least watch the beginning. I knew it was about a Brooklynite, and I'd heard the first scene, where Tony is walking down the street with a can of paint, was filmed on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, which is where our church is. So I thought it would be fun to see that part, and sure enough it was Bensonhurst and not much has changed in 30 years. He stops to buy a double decker slice of pizza and I said to Ed, "That pizza place could be in our neighborhood. There's a million like that around here." We watched on, to the part where Tony goes home after work. He's shown walking down the sidewalk to his family's house, and again, I said to Ed, "That house could be in Bay Ridge (our neighborhood.) That looks just like the houses in Bay Ridge." We watched about the first half hour and decided to stop wasting our time when things got pretty raunchy that first night at the dance club. But the Italian family dinner scene was a real treat, a perfect example of how people, as well as places, don't change much around here. I kept it to myself that time, but I could have told Ed that family could be in our neighborhood.
A few days later the girls decided to desynchronize their naps, so I was entertaining Ginger while Hazel napped in the afternoon, and I flipped on the TV. AMC was showing it again, and as luck would have it there was about 25 minutes left, including the big dance competition. So I missed the middle, but caught the end, and it surprised me. Tony & partner of course won the dance competition but he became disgusted with the results and gave the prize to the couple he thought was better. Then he and his friends who were all doped up went and played on the Verrazano Bridge, which is mere blocks from my house and featured in our 2006 Christmas card pictures. That really caught my attention. One of his friends falls off and dies - unexpected dramatic turn - and they are shown with police on a path under the bridge that we go walking on some Sunday afternoons. Tony spends a soul-searching night riding the subway and determines to get out of the vicious cycle his life has become.
After seeing the bridge at the end of the movie, I thought, wow, I'm really living where it happened. (I say "happened" as if it's real, you know what I mean.) And guess what - I really am. Movie-locations indicates that most of the movie was filmed right here in Bay Ridge, including Tony's house, about 15 blocks from where I live. I had no idea I was right in the middle of it, albeit 30 years later. "Disco Mom" was a fun super-hero kind of title I chose for myself, but now I feel like I can really claim it, and I do.
I am Disco Mom.
(And speaking of Brooklyn movies, see my very favorite.)