Thursday, May 14, 2009

Studio 54

Studio 54: "Studio 54" nightclub was originally opened in New York City in April 1977. At that time it seemed to be a marvelous replica of the wild, flamboyant, free and decadent party lifestyle of the 70's. For almost three years this popular club had a reputation for a universal center of thundering disco music, outstanding guests and musicians, and the party that never ended. At Studio 54 nightclub, tubes studded with lights steadily rose over the dance floor and descended Flash Gordon style in a wild frenzy, while a space sound system pumped out the steady beat of hot dance compositions at sometimes insufferable decibels. Drugs were as common at "54" as was alcohol, sex and a phenomenal light and sound show.

The club attracted celebrities and guests from all parts. Co-owner Steve Rubell would limit entry to the elite, thus lots of others were named by as the "gray people" and turned away. Gaining entry into Studio 54 became an almost unrealizable wish for many hungering to be a part of the "beautiful crowd".

At present, Studio 54 has been shut down with the exception of private parties and special events. No club will ever be the cultural phenomenon that Studio 54 was, although an identical nightclub was opened in Las Vegas. Situated on two levels, the club has four bars, a main dance floor, two raised dance platforms, two electronic/movable go-go cages, an exclusive VIP lounge area and the party crashers lounge area. The walls are decorated with the photographs of celebrities from the original Studio 54 nightclub in New York City. The distinguishing features of the new club are: special lighting, smoke machines and lasers, confetti cannons, ceiling swings used by Studio 54 dancers and 45 video screens showing dancing crowd.

January, 1976: Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager rent space at 254 West 54th Street, currently a closed, vacant CBS Television Studio.

April 26, 1977: Studio 54 at opens for business!

1977: The club grossed an estimated 7 million after one year of operation.

1977 through 1979: Studio 54 guests include: Cher, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Halston, Calvin Klein, Elton John, Andy Warhol, Christopher Reeves, Michael Jackson, Brooke Shields, newlyweds Donald and Ivana Trump, Truman Capote and Margaux Hemingway.

June, 1979: After Rubell publicly bragged one too many times about how much the club was taking in, federal agents armed with guns and a search warrant raided the premises. Schrager is arrested for possession of cocaine.
Rubell & Schrager are charged with tax evasion, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

December, 1979: The club and owners are busted by 50 IRS Agents after being tip-offed by a disgruntled former employee and an article in a November 12, 1979 issue of New York Magazine.

More recently, a movie was released about the famous New York City nightclub, seen and told through the eyes of a young employee. With its own soundtrack released in conjunction with the movie:

For an insightful and academic look at the culture of the club, and an explanation on the array of techneques used by owners/creator's of this clubbing marvel, see Love Saves the Day, by Tim Lawrence, pp.2-4.

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