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Review: Playboy’s 1979 Roller Disco & Pajama Party Captivates and Reminds of Bygone Era and Budding Star Dorothy Stratten

Over-The-Top Playboy Special Preserved On YouTube Serves As A Bittersweet Reminder Of A Much Different Era – And What Might Have Been With Respect To Young Bombshell Dorothy Stratten


Published June 3, 2017


Don't we all love watching old videos on YouTube to get a glimpse at the past.  Sports events, TV shows, you name it.  I recently found one that has to be the most underrated video – or set of videos – in the whole YouTube universe.  I’m talking about Playboy’s Roller Disco & Pajama Party (or “Roller Disco/Pajama Party” for short).   [Ed.: Videos are linked on Page 4 of this article.]

Yep, you read it right.  And I am not some snowflake, “feminist” Millennial trying to prove how sophisticated and politically sensitive I am by mocking the strange tastes of an older generation.  This article is an irony-free zone. 

The wonderful 1979 Roller Disco/Pajama Party shows a time when people appreciated beauty not just in women but also in manners, music and attire.  Perhaps some of it was just a mirage, but it sure looks real to this guy who has watched it five times.  Adding to the value of the special is that underneath the superficial aura of careless reverie is the germ seed of a tragedy that some say marked the end of the 1970s.

For those of a certain age, we might remember the 1970s but were too young to enjoy it.  Looking back through the portal of the internet, we can see what we missed.  The world started to change in the early-80s.  AIDs ended the sexual freedom.  Outside the bedroom, relations between the sexes began a long descent as feminism started to infiltrate the minds of young women.  (Today the sexes are in a virtual state of war.)  The war on drugs didn’t even exist in the 1970s, and terrorism was something that happened only in the Middle East.  The fascist scourge of our age, the Diversity cult, was not even a buzzword much less a state religion.  While the economy wasn’t great, most regular American males could marry a young woman, buy a house and support a family.

Also, in contrast to today popular music was infused with all sorts of wonderful and inventive styles.  The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Who shared the music charts with genre busting artists such as jazz flugalhorn player Chuck Mangione.  Mangione, who is featured heavily as live party entertainment in the Roller Disco/Pajama Party with his outstanding quartet, mixed catchy melodies with virtuoso jazz solo work.  A handful of his tunes played constantly on the radio and the entire country knew them.  They are much-maligned today (by people pretending to be music snobs) but their accessibility, musicality and beauty are undeniable.  (The low-resolution noise people listen to through their earbuds today does not even compare.)

Of course, no one knew it at the time but the Roller Disco/Pajama Party would mark the unofficial end of an era.  Or the start of the end.  Despite its outlandish name, the Roller Disco/Pajama Party is the evolution of a genre of entertainment that Playboy invented in the staid late-1950s with the more understated television series Playboy’s Penthouse.  Filmed in Chicago, Playboy’s Penthouse used a roving camera to give the viewer the sensation of being a guest at one of Hefner’s sophisticated cocktail parties high above Lakeshore Drive.  Party guests included jazz luminaries like Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole along with Playmates.  (These also can be found on YouTube.)


Hefner resurrected the format again in color in 1969 with the series Playboy After Dark.

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