IT WAS THE LATE 1970s, troubling times in many ways — hostages in Iran, gas more than a dollar a gallon, Jimmy Carter pleading with a nation to conserve electricity. Legions of young people chose to leave their problems behind by wriggling into gold lamé jumpsuits and doing the hustle. And for some of us around here — western suburbs, twenties, on the party circuit — that meant just one thing: Faces.
[sidebar]A former supper club along Route 2 in Cambridge, Faces was an unlikely runaway success for the four Martignetti brothers — sons of one of the liquor-store magnates — who’d decided to take a chance on disco.
Faces became the place to go: a big-city club in the suburbs where the dance floors were packed, the bars well stocked, and the parking free. There were hulking, tuxedoed bouncers and bartenders, cocktail waitresses in miniskirts darting through crowds of revelers, and the DJ up in his booth, spinning vinyl back when vinyl was all there was. On Friday and Saturday nights, 2,000 gyrating, satin-draped bodies busted their best moves across three parquet dance floors and shimmied up to one of five bars. For nearly 15 years, Faces reigned.
And then, it rotted — before our very eyes. The Martignettis closed Faces in the early ’90s but, claiming they were hamstrung by zoning issues, refused to tear the place down. In time, huge white letters began to tumble from the once-proud Faces sign that still stands like a warped beacon over Route 2. Graffiti marred the formerly pristine building. Plywood went up over broken windows. Cracks in the parking lot sprouted waist-high weeds. For two decades now, the shuttered nightclub has been thumbing its ugly nose at commuters, a bizarre monument to a time that seems like just yesterday but also an entire lifetime away.
Now, at long last, Faces is slated for demolition this spring. So, as we bid a collective adieu to this most hated — and beloved — landmark, we take a wistful look back in the words of those who knew the place best.
Eileen Doherty | Patron In those days, the drinking age was 18. I graduated high school in ’75, when I was 17. I had to wait until the next summer to go. A big crowd of us would go five nights out of seven. They were closed two nights a week, and that’s when we’d stay home and sleep.
Mark DeAngelis | Manager I was one of those people who grew up at Faces. I started working there right after high school as a bouncer. It was the place to be, inside or outside of Boston. That place would be absolutely packed on Friday and Saturday nights. The whole place, with standing room, held close to 2,000 people, and we did standing-room-only for a few years in the ’80s. The line would start to build outside the front of the building, all around the corner. We used to open at 9 at night. Being in my forties now, that’s when I like to be in my pajamas.
Dave “Mull-T” Barstow | Bartender You know Studio 54? We were the Boston version of that. You got dressed up — the best it could be — the nice clothes, the bling, the money. Even if it was all fake, for that night everyone lived like a rock star.