Think about it… its 1977 and you and your Greek cousins and friends are coming out of a movie theater on a Friday night. You’re all dressed in opened collared shirts, gold chains dangling from your neck, tight pants and bell bottoms that covered your entire platform shoe, short leather jackets, and hair with enough Aqua-net hairspray to light up like a bon-fire if a cigarette got too close. You just finished watching Saturday Night Fever, and you all think you are John Travolta a/k/a Tony Manero, or the Greek version – Adoni Maneros.
It was the height of the disco fad and you were heading to the discos – ouh ouh! Problem is… you can’t dance.
That didn’t stop us. We would fit a bunch of guys in someone’s Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (Greeks loved their Trrrrraaaans Am – gotta roll that “r”) and headed out on the town. The Bee Gees’ Stayin Alive is blasting from the car 8-track player. First stop, Valentino’s on Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill. This was where the local mafia guys – or wannabees, hung out (better to stay on the other side of the room). One night they announced a new act. The music started and these guys came out – a cop, soldier, construction worker, cowboy, biker, and an Indian chief. You guessed it – the Village People. I laughed my head off. No way these guys would last, I thought… but who’s laughing all the way to the bank now?
Next stop, Someplace Else, on Cuthbert Blvd., Cherry Hill. It looked like a castle. Then off to Her Place and grab a quick slice of pizza at King of Pizza next door. Then to Enchante’s on Route 70, Cherry Hill. That was the more “upclass” disco, where the drinks were expensive – and so were the ladies. They didn’t give us the time of day! Oh well, we just went to Franchine’s behind the old Diamond Diner. Eventually that changed to the Penalty Box (the original was in Pennsauken – the old Ivy Stone Inn). Remember the Point View Inn? Of course, Emerald City. Great place, but my cousin Bill’s car was stolen from the parking lot. We had to walk home – not a good night.
In the 70’s the drinking age in Jersey was 18 and in Pennsylvania it was 21, so the under 21 crowd from the Philadelphia area drove over the bridges to Jersey. We had to compete with all the “guidos” from South Philly and their Italian horns, Italian Stallion jackets, and Italian attitudes. They definitely thought they were Tony Manero. A few scuffles here and there, but no one really got hurt and everyone was friends afterwards. No guns, no drive-bys, not like the today’s cowards who think it’s the Wild West.
After a night on the town, it was either off to Diamond Diner or Windsor Diner for breakfast (Country Squire Diner or Llanerch Diner if you’re in Philly), or, if you had stamina, the after hour clubs. The Coliseum in Voorhees or… the most famous, Dukes until dawn!
When Jersey raised the drinking age to 21 and we got older, we headed across the bridge into Philly. Down town it was La Dolce Vita near the old Dionysos Greek Restaurant on 2nd Street. London Victory Club on 8th and Victory. La Casa at 19th and Market, and one of the most popular – the Library. If you wanted to meet one of your Greek friends, just walk into any of these places… they were all there. As these clubs started to shut down, there was PT’s on Front Street or you could drive to Bensalem and go to Fischers and meet all the Greeks from Northeast Philly.
During my college years at Widener, the most happening place was Pulsations on Route 1 near Concordville. It had a giant spaceship that came down on the dance floor and of course, you could buy a Gold Membership, which got you instant entry and access to the private rooms (you know who you people are!). I was a college student – no money, I went in with the rest of the cattle. If you didn’t have money, then you went to Discovery on MacDade Blvd. At least the drinks were cheap and the girls were… well, nice! There was a real “hot spot” among the guys, but I was never there! It wasn’t a disco, but it had dancing… Lou Turk’s!
This is what we did back then… with our Greek cousins and friends. But, when I hung out with my “American” friends, it was Led Zepplin, Aerosmith, Boston, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Don’t laugh – you had to go with the flow!
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