Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night

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"Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night" was the title of a 1976 New York Magazine article by British rock journalist Nik Cohn. It was the basis for the plot and characters in the movie Saturday Night Fever.

Originally, the article was published as a piece of factual reporting. However, around the time of the twentieth anniversary of the film, Cohn revealed that the article was actually a work of fiction. Assigned to write an article about the 1970s disco scene, Cohn, a newcomer to the United States, was unfamiliar with the American working-class subculture he was trying to cover.

To overcome this problem, Cohn based his piece on a young man he knew in England. "My story was a fraud," he wrote. "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."[1] The fraud was successful because mod and disco subcultures shared certain similarities, both emphasized fashion and music, and both the US and UK characters were working class.


  1. ^ Saturday Night Fever: The Life by Charlie LeDuff, New York Times. June 9, 1996

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