Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Saturday Night Fever’: John Travolta’s Iconic Dance Was Originally Filmed With a Different Song

‘Saturday Night Fever’: John Travolta’s Iconic Dance Was Originally Filmed With a Different Song

John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees’ You Should Be Dancin’ are synonymous—but the song was not originally part of the movie. 

In 1977, the movie hit the silver screen and became an instant cult classic. The story followed Travolta as Tony Manero, a working-class Brooklyn man with dreams of becoming a famous dancer. In real life, the actor is a singer and dancer. Nonetheless, he worked for six months to perfect his moves.

Travolta, of course, nailed those moves in the iconic dance-off scene that proved he was the king of disco. In it, he dominates a light of floor to You Should Be Dancin’. The scene has become one of the most legendary in movie history. 

But interestingly, it wasn’t actually filmed to the Bee Gees hit. John Travolta actually danced to a single by Boz Scaggs called Lowdown. Unfortunately for Scaggs, his label, Columbia Records, refused to let the song appear in the film. So the director, John Badham, had to track down another song that would match the choreography. 

‘Saturday Night Fever’ Gave the Bee Gees Another Round of Fame

You Should Be Dancin’ happened to fit effortlessly into the scene, which opened the door for more Bee Gees songs to make it into the film and soundtrack. At that time, the band was working on several new would-be hits, including Night FeverStaying AliveHow Deep Is Your LoveMore Than a Woman, and If I Can’t Have You. So they handed those over to appear on the soundtrack. 

The turn of events ended up working out well for the Bee Gees and horribly for Scaggs. After the movie’s release, Saturday Night Fever went on to gross over $94 million at the Box Office. Its soundtrack then spent 24 weeks on top of the Billboard 200 chart, and it sold 16 million copies, making it the best-selling album of all time. The soundtrack held that title until Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 1983.

Subsequently, the Bee Gees single Night Fever sat at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks, and Staying Alive enjoyed four weeks in the same spot. Overall, the movie gave the group a resurgence after falling out of fame for some time. And the movie itself stalled the inevitable fall of disco.