Thousands get funky at World’s Largest Disco

Saturday, November 29, 2014Back to News ▸


Michael Ott of Rochester and Roselyn Kasmire of Buffalo dance to the music of Disco Unlimited on Saturday.

Cool dudes in boss threads and foxy ladies in fly fashions from the 1970s – all dancing the bump, the hustle and the bus stop.

That could mean only one thing in Buffalo: it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the World’s Largest Disco at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center was on – like hot buttered popcorn – with 7,000 people ready to party and get down.

Can you dig it?

Melissa Campbell of Williamsville and her sisters, Clarissa Campbell of Cheektowaga and Theodora Eberhardt of Lake View, all were appropriately adorned for the evening, in jersey-knit wrap dresses, polyester bell bottoms, Afro wigs and mirror-ball earrings.

“I’ve missed only one year since the ’90s,” said Clarissa Campbell. “It’s fun, but the biggest appeal is the charity. It’s for the children.”

The World’s Largest Disco was one of the first events ever held in the Buffalo Convention Center, back in September 1979. It was revived 15 years later as a charity event by promoter Dave Pietrowski.

“It’s fun and funny,” he said. “You know, it’s actually hysterical. People go shopping and bump into each other in these vintage clothing stores. You see people and they arrive surprised because you’re wearing a wig ... and people laugh and go, ‘Hey, that’s my neighbor.’ ”

Pietrowski said about 6,500 of the estimated 7,000 patrons who show up annually actually dress up in garb from the era.

The fashions were creative – even if an article or two among all the ensembles might have veered away from the era. However, Melissa Campbell, who has attended all 21 years of the event, preferred to be authentic, with her blond, Farah Fawcett-styled wig and white vinyl platform boots. She visited vintage shops for her outfit.

“It’s definitely polyester. There’s nothing cotton involved in this outfit, but it’s shiny. That’s important to be shiny,” she said.

Campbell’s boyfriend, Ray Dion of Lancaster, didn’t have to try hard to capture that ’70s look. He already had the feathered, David Cassidy locks, which is his regular haircut, he said. Dion just added a brown polka dot shirt with plaid polyester bell bottoms and he was stylin’ like Greg Brady.

Kevin Everett of Amherst had one of the most eye-catching looks of the evening – a white suit, with wide zebra-pattern lapels and matching bell-bottom cuffs; black, 4-inch heeled platform shoes and blue and amber LED lighting piped into his suit and shoes.

Paul Righetti of Amherst, in a gaudy gold lamé shirt and Jheri curl wig, was joined by his wife, Kathleen, who were a hot pink minidress and matching Pocahontas headband.

Phil Hawkins of Niagara Falls, Ont., sported a more casual style – a tan track suit with dark brown piping, brown headband and brown, high-top Converse sneakers.

“I went for the more relaxed look.” Hawkins said. The event, presented by Univera Healthcare at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and hosted by Conesus Fest for Charity, has, since its inception, raised more than $3.5 million for Camp Good Days and Special Times.

“We play all music from the ’70s. If there’s 7,000 people, there’ll be 5,000 people dancing at any one time. They sing the songs. We don’t play any remixed songs, we don’t do any extended-play music because the people want to hear the songs the way they remember them on the radio,” Pietrowski said.

In addition to dancing to disco-era songs, including “Funky Town” by Lipps Inc. and “Boogie Fever” by the Sylvers, VIP patrons lined up to meet and take photographs with 1970s stars.

This year, the celebrity guests included Henry Winkler, perhaps best known as Fonzie on “Happy Days,” a sitcom that aired on the ABC television network from 1974 to 1984; Cindy Williams, who was Shirley Feeney on “Laverne & Shirley,” also on ABC from 1976 to 1983; Lorenzo Lamas, who played Lance Cumson on the prime-time soap opera “Falcon Crest” on CBS in the 1980s; and Deney Terrio, who hosted the syndicated show “Dance Fever” from 1979 to 1985.

For Jennifer West of Clarence, it was her second time meeting the Fonz in the flesh and a first-time meeting with Williams.

“I’ve been coming since 1999. They were so sweet, and (Williams) said she loved my dress,” said West.

The party also featured the R&B group Tavares, who performed their ’70s disco-era hits, “More Than a Woman” which was featured on the 1977 “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, and “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel.”


Article orignially appeared in the Buffalo News bon November 29, 2014 - 10:06 PM