Released on 16 December 1977, Saturday Night Fever was the film that broke disco in both senses: it popularised and developed the form at the same time as it froze a vibrant and creative subculture. Saturday Night Fever made disco ubiquitous in 1978. It became a fad – with the inevitable backlash.
The statistics tell the story. The film took more than $3m in the first weekend, eventually going on to gross in the region of $237m; it became the fourth highest grossing movie of 1977. The soundtrack album included six Us No 1s and it topped the charts for 24 weeks in the Us, 18 weeks in the UK.
In fact, disco had been building for several years. In his ground-breaking September 1973 Rolling Stone story, Vince Aletti traced its origins in the underground return of the discotheque, "where the hardcore dance crowd – blacks,