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Skyline Standouts


By Kim Hasty

The Skyline, like the disco era itself, came and went in a brief but memorable flurry of brightly colored polyester shirts, sequined dresses and lots of dancing. Meet a few of the people who made it all happen.

Hunter Olive

Fayetteville natives Hunter and Mary Erwin Olive have been the owners of Olive Glass and Marble since 1985. But after he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973, Hunter Olive and his friend Phillip Knight were working as property managers for Olive’s father Clarence and Bob Allen, who were co-owners of the
Wachovia Building downtown.

Back then, the 11th floor featured a cafeteria for those employed in the building and an upscale restaurant known as The Penthouse. “Then I met a guy by the name of Rogelio Arcåhilla,” Olive said. “He said, ‘You ought to take that cafeteria and turn it into a disco.’ ”

Archilla was more commonly known as Don Perry, founder of Don Perry Promotions and a partner in Beach Club Promotions, who had a hand in bringing in most of the big name artists who have performed here. Olive and Knight took his advice and opened the Skyline, complete with a glittering dance floor that featured pulsating colorful lights. It was the disco era, and the Skyline – with the motto “You gotta go up to get down – was an instant hit. “It was a lot of fun,” Hunter Olive said. “You got up to the top of that building and
looked out over the city of Fayetteville and it was all lit up. It was phenomenal.

Nobody around here had ever seen anything like it.

People were lined up outside the building waiting for the elevator to go up.”

Don Perry

Hunter Olive says Don Perry was the first person he’d ever known who wore semistacked shoes and Nik Nik shirts, the open-collared, often ostentatiously patterned polyester shirts made famous by John Travolta in the movie “Saturday Night Fever.” Perry, a native of Costa Rica, originally came to Fayetteville through Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne and
met his wife of 30 years here. A lifelong music lover, he was a successful promoter of a variety of artists in the 1970s with offices on the 11th floor of the Wachovia Building.

“He was a pretty remarkable character,” said longtime lawyer Bob Ray, who, while not a Skyline regular, helped with many of the key players’ legal needs. “He was manager for B.J. Thomas and others. He was a wild and crazy guy when he was here.”

Perry now lives in Atlanta and is with one of the largest law firms in the country, Greenberg Traurig, despite having never attended law school. “The only bar I ever passed was at the Skyline,” he said.

“For a guy like me to be with a firm like this is just a godsend.” But everyone who knew him could attest to Perry’s work ethic, vision and colorful personality. He became close friends with, besides Ray, successful Fayetteville professionals like lawyers Tony Rand and Charlie Rose, accountants Lyndo Tippett and Pat Williford and real estate developer Billy Wellons. “We were like a big family,” Perry said.

He said the idea for the Skyline came to him during one of his frequent flights from the Fayetteville airport. That’s when he suggested the idea of a disco to property manager Hunter Olive. “Every time I flew over Fayetteville, I saw the building,” he said. “This was during the time of Studio 54 in New York. As soon as we opened the place, you couldn’t get inside. That place became the place to go.” Perry was in on several other popular clubs in Fayetteville, including Maxim’s and Nashville Station, and went on to build successful nightclubs in Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte. But, like the Skyline, which closed after only a few years, he said even the most successful clubs are shortlived. “I never had a club that didn’t explode,” he said. “But entertainment venues only have that kind of life. But I had a lot of times in Fayetteville, and it was unbelievable. Incredible. Fayetteville was amazing.”

And he has a suggestion for Keith Allison, founder of Systel Business Equipment, whose family now owns the building. “Redo the Skyline!” Perry said.

Keith Allison

Keith Allison was too busy working hard to spend too many late evenings at the Skyline, but he did go a few times. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 1978 and went to work right out of school for a Fayetteville real estate developer, the late Dan Barker.

“The Skyline had an amazing view of the city,” Allison said. “It was a panoramic view. And there was a big disco ball. It was always crowded.”

But the young man who once bought meal books from the freshman girls at Appalachian State and then sold them for a profit would go on to prove that hard work pays off. Allison bought the Wachovia Building, which housed the Skyline on its 11th floor, in 1998. The founder of Systel Building Equipment, he changed the name to the Systel Building.

Bobby Monaco

Skyline regulars knew that when Bobby Monaco gave them the signal, their favorite songs were about to play.

“It was fantastic,” said Monaco, one of the club’s main DJs. “The good thing about the Skyline is that everybody went; all kinds of people went there, and everybody had a good time and got along.”

Monaco’s voice was often the one heard on radio commercials for the nightclub. At the Skyline, he made the lights play off the plexiglass dance floor and played golden standard after golden standard of the disco era, always ending every evening with Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”

“The hustle, the line dances,” Monaco said. “It was just magnificent.”
Best of all, his Skyline days provided him something that’s lasted longer than the disco era did. His career as a DJ led him to meet his wife, Andrea.

Marion Rogeaux McDonald

Waitresses were an integral part of the Skyline scene as they served “setups” from the bar for 75 cents each and Schlitz or Budweiser beers by the bottle or on draft. Back then, liquor could be sold only by the bottle and only in county-run stores, so it was only through the practice of “brown bagging” that customers could have mixed drinks.

At the Skyline, everyone handed their brown bag over to the bartender upon arriving. They were given a number that corresponded to their bottle, then paid for mixers like sodas or water and for the bartender to mix their drinks for them. Waitresses, wearing scarves around their necks and short skirts, served the drinks.

“I loved working there and partying when I was off,” said Marion Rogeaux McDonald, pictured with her friend Debbie, who worked as a Skyline waitress. “It was so much fun and had the coolest dance floor ever. I don’t remember there ever being any fights. It was just a great place!”