The Lonesome Death of the Saturday Night Bath

the Bay City Rollers

What happened to the ‘Saturday Night Bath’?

-Cheryl in New Hampshire

Ah, how times have changed. The “Saturday Night Bath,” of course, refers to America’s once-cherished tradition of washing a week’s worth of grimy manual labor off, layer by layer, in a foamy fury of soap and water. What happened? The entertainment of the 1970’s, that’s what. Some of the scuzziest, least bathed musicians of the era, needing every spare minute to convince the public to buy their loathsome product, started playing up Saturday nights as a time to go out to a club, take Quaaludes and go home with someone equally as sweaty and unimpressive. The Bay City Rollers “got a date at the good ole rock and roll road show” (they couldn’t get tickets to the home game?), while the Bee Gees, who had not bathed in over a decade, caught Saturday Night Fever, an infection of the exposed chest hair. By the time Elton John declared Saturday night “alright for fighting,” the battle for the nation’s hygiene was all but lost. The Nixon White House gamely tried a “Saturday Night Massacre,” a daring plan to drop all hippies into a water tank and close the lid, but some unwashed guy sweated all over the orders and they accidentally fired the Attorney General instead. No baths were taken until around 1984, when a music video by Prince convinced Americans that if they took a bath they would finally find out what it sounds like when doves cry. Today people take baths throughout the week (I hope) and the idea of the Saturday Night bath lives on only in odd Japanese advertisements:

ad: 'I wonder why coffee tastes so good when you're naked with your family'

– Brady

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