I Partied My Life Away at the Good Times Cafe

discomirror ballThis week in Drinking Diaries.com, I write about the bar to end all bars that cured me of  night-clubbing forever — at least in Connecticut.

Freshman year in college, when Saturday Night Fever came to the tiny, provincial Pennsylvania town of  my small, private, pseudo-elite college, my friends contemptuously declared that no one could possibly look and act like the people in that film. It had to be a gross exaggeration.

They were wrong.

Down the Post Road in Fairfield County, Connecticut, since the age of fourteen I’d frequented a number of “theme” bars that catered to a disco clientele: a place where every table had a telephone, another with tiger-patterned rugs on the walls, a different one that sponsored dance contests.   These discos were full of young men with driven-back hair, polyester shirts and flared designer jeans with contrasting threads and platform shoes; girls with “precision” blow-dry hair cuts, glittering green eye shadow, boob-baring Danskins, and heels hanging off their wooden Candies.

Bars came in and out of fashion for mysterious reasons. Good Times Café in Norwalk was located in the bottom half of the back of a strip mall far down the Post Road, at least forty minutes from my home town, but which inexplicably became an instant hit with people from New Haven to Brooklyn, mixing everyone from Bronx street kids to millionaires sons from Greenwich.

It was expensive, with a two dollar cover and $1.25 bar drinks, and you always had to wait in line, sometimes for hours, to get in. When you did, it was a nightmare of flashing lights, over-made up girls and scary men – the aura of Weimar Berlin with the added trauma of disco music blaring from speakers, or bad metal from a live band.

I only went because my friends wanted to go, I never actually met anyone I liked there, but I loved to dance. The few times I was persuaded to go out with one of the Tom, Jerry, or Elvises who accosted me, the dates were duds. Men who looked glamorous under the mirror ball turned out to be: policemen, factory workers, rich college boys from Darien who all wanted a real girlfriend.

I preferred to dance. I was there a minimum of three nights a week, every week, during the summer of 1979, arriving to stand in line as early as 7 p.m., and generally staying until it shut its doors to the strains of  My Sharona at 3.

Good Times wound down sometime in the mid-1980s and its former space is now a fitness club, but it lives on in cumulative memory. Searching in vain for an historical Google image, I came upon  Facebook page titled, “I Partied My Single Life away at Good Times Café in Norwalk, CT.”:

Thursday, 25-cent drinks. Wednesday-male stripper night. Closed Goodtimes and then it was off to Portchester NY to continue. Does anyone remember the X-rated hypnotist?

          Ah, yes, I remember it well.

One commentor’s experience best reflects my own: I was there so much, my parents had my mail forwarded. I remember such great times, and probably forgot even better ones.