The Last Days of Disco

1998 film by Whit Stillman

The Last Days of Disco is a 1998 film about two female Manhattan book editors fresh out of college, both finding love and themselves while frequenting the local disco.

Written and directed by Whit Stillman.
History is made at night. tagline

Charlotte Pingress

  • [to Dan] What if in a few years we don't marry some corporate lawyer? What if we marry some meatball, like you? Or not you, personally, but someone with similarly low socioeconomic prospects.
  • Anything I did that was wrong, I apologize for. But anything I did that was not wrong, I don't apologize for.
  • This is going to sound dumb, but, it really works. Whenever you can, throw the word sexy - into a conversation. Its a kind of a signal. Like, um, there's something really sexy about strobe lights. Or, eh, this fabric is so sexy.

Des McGrath

  • Do you think the neurological effects of caffeine are similar to that of cocaine?
  • I could be gay.
  • Group social life has its place, but at a certain point other biological factors come into play. Our bodies weren't really designed for group social life. A certain amount of pairing off was always part of the original plan.
  • I'm not an addict. I'm a habitual user.
  • Yuppie stands for "young upwardly mobile professional". Nightclub flunkie is not a professional category. I wish we were yuppies. Young, upwardly mobile, professional. Those are good things, not bad things.
  • Do you know that Shakespearean admonition 'To thine own self be true'? It's premised on the idea that 'thine own self' is pretty good, being true to which is commendable. What if 'thine own self' is not so good? What if it's pretty bad? Would it better, in that case. not to be true to 'thine own self'? See? That's my situation.

Josh Neff

  • [to Des] I couldn't believe you'd be involved in the kind of things that have been going on here and told them so. I consider you a person of some integrity, except, you know, in your relations with women.
  • [About Lady and the Tramp] There is something depressing about it and it's not really about dogs. Except for some superficial bow-wow stuff at the start, the dogs all represent human types which is where it gets into real trouble. Lady, the ostensible protagonist, is a fluffy blond cocker spaniel with absolutely nothing on the brain. She's great looking but, let's be honest, incredibly insipid. Tramp, the love interest is a smarmy braggart of the most obnoxious kind, an oily jail bird out for a piece of tail or whatever he can get. No, he's a self confessed chicken thief; an all around sleaze ball. What's the function of a film of this kind? Essentially it's a primer about love and marriage directed at very young people, imprinting on their little psyches that smooth talking delinquents recently escaped from the local pound are a good match for nice girls in sheltered homes. When in ten years the icky human version of Tramp shows up around the house their hormones will be racing and no one will understand why. Films like this program women to adore jerks.
  • Disco will never be over. It will always live in our minds and hearts. Something like this that was this big, and this important, and this great, will never die. Oh for a few years, maybe many years it will be considered passé and ridiculous. It will be misrepresented, caricatured and sneered at, or worse, completely ignored. People will laugh about John Travolta, Olivia Newton John, white polyester suits and platform shoes and going like this! [mimics Saturday Night Fever pose] But we had nothing to do with those things and still loved disco. Those who didn't understand will never understand. Disco was much more, and much better than all that. Disco was too great and too much fun to be gone forever. It has got to come back someday. I just hope it will be in our own lifetimes...Sorry, I've got a job interview this afternoon and I was trying to get revved up, but - most of what I said I, uh, believe.


  • Jimmy Steinway: [to Alice] There isn't a chance of you getting infatuated with me again is there?
  • Tom Platt: The environmental movement of our times was sparked by the rerelease of Bambi in the 1950s.
  • Ted Boynton: Barcelona is beautiful but in human terms, pretty cold.


Alice Kinnon: I hear you have a much better chance of getting in if you come by cab.
Charlotte Pingress: You're really worried about getting in?
Alice Kinnon: Yes.
Charlotte Pingress: I thought you've been here several times before.
Alice Kinnon: Not the front way. They were private parties. We came in through the back.
Charlotte Pingress: We look real good tonight. I'm sure we're gonna get in.
[Alice and Charlotte round the corner and see a large crowd waiting outside the Disco Club]
Alice Kinnon: [beat] Let's get a cab.
Charlotte Pingress: Yeah.

Jimmy Steinway: You know this is the way people used to dance in bars in the old days.
Charlotte Pingress: Did people ever really dance in bars? I thought that was a myth.
Jimmy Steinway: People my older brothers age, they did.
Charlotte Pingress: Your brother must be a lot older. Before disco, this country was a dancing wasteland. You know the Woodstock generation of the 1960s that were so full of themselves and conceited? None of those people could dance.

Jimmy Steinway: There's something deeply ingrained in human biology: women prefer bad over weak and indecisive... and unemployed
Josh Neff: I don't know about that.
Jimmy Steinway: You think they do prefer weak, indecisive, and unemployed?

Des McGrath: 'Yuppie scum'? In college, before dropping out, I took a course in the propaganda uses of language; one objective is to deny other people's humanity, or even right to exist.
Jimmy Steinway: In the men's lounge someone scrawled 'kill yuppie scum'.
Des McGrath: Do yuppies even exist? No one says, "I am a yuppie", it's always the other guy who's a yuppie. I think for a group to exist, somebody has to admit to be part of it.
Dan Powers: Of course yuppies exist. Most people would say you two are prime specimens.

Josh Neff: A lot of people like to say they won't take no for an answer. I just wanted you to know that I'm not one of them; I can be easily discouraged. I will take no for an answer.
Alice Kinnon: Okay. No.
Josh Neff: You don't mean that?
Alice Kinnon: No. [Smiles]

Dan Powers: You know, Alice, except for politics, we've got a lot in common: We're both pretty serious, and, I think, respect each other's bases for judgment. Occasionally I get reactionary thoughts, too.
Alice Kinnon: I'm not reactionary.
Dan Powers: Well, aesthetically.
Alice Kinnon: Oh, well - aesthetically.

Alice Kinnon: I think it's much better to wait until things happen naturally. Forcing things never works.
Charlotte Pingress: That's not true. Forcing things usually works beautifully.

Josh Neff: Take The Tortoise and the Hare. Okay, the tortoise won one race. Do you think that hare is really going to lose any more races to turtles? Not on your life.
Alice Kinnon: I like that tortoise.
Josh Neff: So do I. But if you were a betting person, would you say, "That tortoise won against the hare; in future races I'm backing him"? No. That race was almost certainly a fluke and afterwards the tortoise is still a tortoise, and the hare a hare.

Charlotte Pingress: I'm sorry, its just that you're so terrific, it makes me sick to think you might get in that terrible situation again where everyone hated you.
Alice Kinnon: Hated me?
Charlotte Pingress: You're wonderful. Maybe in physical terms I'm a little cuter than you, but you should be much more popular than I am. It would be such a shame if what happened in college should repeat itself.

Charlotte Pingress: You're not fit to lick the boots of my real gay friends.
Des McGrath: Well, I don't want to lick the boots of your real gay friends.

Des McGrath: Its women like you whose attitudes towards men are so dehumanizing.
Charlotte Pingress: Like what?
Des McGrath: That men are swine, obsessed with large breasts and the sex act, devoid of any idealistic romantic sensibility. When, in fact, we have that idealistic sensibility, in spades. For instance, you have no idea what men really think about women's breasts.
Alice Kinnon: What do men think about women's breasts?
Des McGrath: Well, its not just something you blurt out. Its far more complicated and nuanced.

Alice Kinnon: That's odd he knew I drank vodka tonics. I never told him.
Des McGrath: It's uncanny.
Alice Kinnon: You mean it's a complete cliché? All women recent college graduates drink vodka tonics, or something like that?
Des McGrath: Well, maybe.
Alice Kinnon: [to Charlotte] So, Jimmy thinks I'm a total cliche?
Charlotte Pingress: I ordered a Vodka tonic too. So what? You're plenty original without having to order something weird to drink.
Des McGrath: Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it. Can I get you another?
Alice Kinnon: Thanks. Actually, if you don't mind, I think I'd prefer - um - a whiskey sour.

Alice Kinnon: If when making love, the man... spurts... outside the woman, does that count as sexual intercourse?
Tom Platt: "Spurts"?
Alice Kinnon: If it... squirts outside, without getting in... does that count as losing your virginity?
Tom Platt: No part of the man got in at any time?
Alice Kinnon: I don't think so.
Tom Platt: I think part has to get in to be considered sexual intercourse.
Alice Kinnon: So then I was a virgin.

Alice Kinnon: Do you really think we know each other well enough to move in together?
Charlotte Pingress: Well, maybe that's good.
Alice Kinnon: Its not just that we don't know each other well. I'm not even sure we really like each other.
Charlotte Pingress: That's okay. You know, Alice, I'm not so much of a bitch as I seem.

Des McGrath: One of the things that makes me happy in life is knowing I don't envy anyone. I don't want to be anyone else or do anything that I want to do... which of course right now is nothing now that I'm unemployed, but I have good projects for the future. Can I speak honestly?
Charlotte Pingress: Yeah.
Des McGrath: You and I are similar. We both got big personalities. That's good. What the world really needs is more big personalities. Perhaps ours burn too brightly, or are too big for people with normal healthy sized personalities like Alice. Or people with abnormal sized personalities like Josh. Or the itsy bitsy teeny wienie little polka dot bikini sized personalities like Jimmy Steinway.
Charlotte Pingress: That's why I'm confident that I will ultimately be successful in television.
Des McGrath: Absolutely. You see, one of the problems of finding the right person and settling down is that it takes all the fun and interest out of going to nightclubs. I mean if you are already living with somebody, why bother going out? Getting seriously involved with someone really just means ruining your nightlife. What I mean to say is... Jimmy, Alice, Josh... so what? That's what I say.
Charlotte Pingress: I think I agree with you.


  • History is made at night.


Wikipedia has an article about: