American Swing | 2009
The year was 1977 and New York City burned. As the metropolis hurtled into bankruptcy, the city's nightlife hit unprecedented heights. In midtown, the ultra-exclusive Studio 54 was a cocaine-fueled celebrity playhouse. Downtown, at the spartan CBGB's, punk rockers set out to destroy everything Pop. Meanwhile, in the basement of the prestigious Ansonia building on the conservative Upper West Side, Plato's Retreat opened its doors to ordinary couples who came to dance, to swim, and to swap. It was the start of a revolution. The brainchild of former wholesale meat purveyor Larry Levenson, Plato's Retreat quickly emerged as the epicenter of public sex for the "me" generation. Previously, swinging was mostly an underground activity, engaged in primarily by the attractive and well-to-do. But Plato's welcomed anyone and everyone. For a mere $35, couples checked their judgments and pedigrees at the door at this clothing-optioned Disneyland. Debutantes got it on next to bus drivers, as movie stars gave secretaries the "starlet treatment". For Levenson and others, Plato's was utopia. For some, it is a time capsule that they are eager to forget.