The movie significantly helped to popularise disco music around the world, and made Travolta a household name. The soundtrack, featuring disco songs by the Bee Gees, was also hugely popular. See Saturday Night Fever soundtrack
The actual plot of the movie has been largely forgotten by history behind the music, dancing, and the perceived coolness of Travolta's image as the polyester-clad dancer. In fact, it is basically a rather gritty coming-of-age tale, as, along with his friend and dancing partner, Stephanie , as Tony Manero (Travolta) decides to leave behind the grit of his uneducated, working-class life in Brooklyn and move with her to Manhattan.
The unsentimental depiction of the subculture of the main characters contrasts with another Travolta film, the sanitized Grease (a 1978 Travolta musical about the teenage subcultures of the 1950s). In 1983, "Staying Alive" was released as a sequel to Saturday Night Fever; this sequel also starred John Travolta reprising his Tony Manero role from the first movie.