The film was selected to screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982. The movie is one of the first American independent films to be selected to show in the main competition at Cannes. Some reports maintain that the picture was the very first to do this.
Production on this independent film got shut down for six months after actress Susan Berman had an accident on a fire escape whilst improvising a scene. Berman was doing an improvisation with one of her fellow actors in the film which involved her character being tossed and trapped on a fire escape, and responding quite frantically to the situation. In the midst of acting and struggling with the other actor in the scene to let her back inside, Berman fell off the fire escape and broke her leg. Production shut down for six months and the crew picked up shooting again in early 1981.
The Peppermint Lounge was a popular discotheque that was open from 1958 to 1965. It was the launchpad for the global Twist craze in the early 1960's. In 1982 the Peppermint Lounge moved downtown to 100 5th Avenue, where it continued for several years before closing in 1985.
Lead actress Susan Berman had no prior experience acting in a film. She was picked out of a theater crowd of an off-off-off-off Broadway play by director Susan Seidelman to be in this film. In the words of Berman, "The only ones in the crowd were friends of the actors, or someone who knew someone who was involved. After the performance, these two people walked up to me and offered me a role in a feature length movie".
Filming started for this film in 1980. Co-writer and director Susan Seidelman had raised US $20,000 for a feature length film and was quite competently managed the finances of the project. The movie was in the end shot for around US $100,000.
The original seed of this film was a string of ideas for a feature on which Susan Seidelman had made extensive notes in 1979. She called Columbia University's screen-writing program to find someone to help her turn these loose ideas into a screenplay. Ron Nyswaner, an up-and-comer in the Columbia screen-writing program, met with Seidelman. Ultimately, Nyswaner helped Seidelman write the screenplay for the film.
"Many of the Manhattan artists, musicians and actors who are part of the scene it chronicles were involved in the making of the movie" according to the Jan-Feb 1983 edition of US 'Coming Attractions' magazine.