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6.7.1976: Disco Goes Big in a Fraudulent Way

On June 7, 1976, New York magazine published a story that brought to life the night life of the disco era: “The Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” by journalist Nik Cohn. As History.com notes:

Disco as a musical style predated the movie Saturday Night Fever by perhaps as many as five years, but disco as an all-consuming cultural phenomenon might never have happened without the 1977 film and its multi-platinum soundtrack featuring such era-defining hits as the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You.” What is absolutely certain is that Saturday Night Fever would never have been made were it not for a magazine article detailing the struggles and dreams of a talented, young, Italian-American disco dancer and his scruffy entourage in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

But wait! Turns out the journalist made up all the scruffy characters in the article.

Cohn’s admission of his fabrication came in 1994, in a piece for the UK’s Guardian newspaper. “My story was a fraud,” he confessed. “I’d only recently arrived in New York. Far from being steeped in Brooklyn street life, I hardly knew the place. As for Vincent, my story’s hero, he was largely inspired by a Shepherd’s Bush mod whom I’d known in the Sixties, a one-time king of Goldhawk Road.”

Too late to stop a cultural phenomenon, however, which is great because we got so much great music out of that era.

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