FUCKING ON THE BALCONY: THE FABULOUS BUT CORROSIVE LEGACY OF STUDIO 54


The club’s penchant for hedonism overshadowed the music played on its dancefloor.

If disco was born in the underground gay clubs of late 60s New York, its coming out party was April 26, 1977 in an old Broadway theatre at 254 West 54th Street. If it wasn’t disco’s greatest club, it was certainly the most dramatic. Studio 54 was conceived as grand theatre as much as a club and it showed in the ambition poured into it by its owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, as well as the woman who conceptualised it, Carmen D’Alessio. Whereas most of the New York underground club scene had been about equality and fellowship, Studio 54 was the most public expression of the veneration of celebrity, glamour and glitz, epitomised by “The Man In The Moon” on stage, inhaling coke from a glittery spoon.


Having gestated in the underground parties of the Loft and the Gallery during the early part of the decade, by 1977 disco had already become a commercial force with New York’s triumvirate of record labels – Prelude, Salsoul and West End – already established alongside the arrival of the disco-conceived 12” single two years earlier.


If disco was born in the underground gay clubs of late 60s New York, its coming out party was April 26, 1977 in an old Broadway theatre at 254 West 54th Street. If it wasn’t disco’s greatest club, it was certainly the most dramatic. Studio 54 was conceived as grand theatre as much as a club and it showed in the ambition poured into it by its owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, as well as the woman who conceptualised it, Carmen D’Alessio. Whereas most of the New York underground club scene had been about equality and fellowship, Studio 54 was the most public expression of the veneration of celebrity, glamour and glitz, epitomised by “The Man In The Moon” on stage, inhaling coke from a glittery spoon.
Having gestated in the underground parties of the Loft and the Gallery during the early part of the decade, by 1977 disco had already become a commercial force with New York’s triumvirate of record labels – Prelude, Salsoul and West End – already established alongside the arrival of the disco-conceived 12” single two years earlier. 
On the opening night, an array of celebs duly showed up, with Bianca Jagger, Brooke Shields, Cher and Donald Trump smiling for the cameras. In the chaos of the opening, there were almost as many left standing the wrong side of the velvet rope, among them Mick Jagger and Frank Sinatra. A party for Bianca Jagger’s birthday a few weeks later, thanks to D’Alessio’s brainwave of getting Bianca to arrive atop a white horse, was the publicity coup that helped establish Studio 54 as the go-to disco club of the moment. 
The resident DJ, the much-loved Richie Kaczor, had been plucked from midtown gay club Hollywood before arriving on West 54th Street and, although a more commercial sound was required in a space so large, Kaczor managed it with grace and elegance. It was here, on the floor at Studio 54, that Kaczor broke Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’. It had originally been the B-side to ‘Substitute’ but it was Richie who flipped the 12” and turned it into an anthem and worldwide hit. “Richie had a lot of respect from all the underground DJs, claims Danny Krivit. “When he did Studio 54, instead of thinking of him as, ‘Oh you’re just playing that commercial stuff’, we thought of him as someone who does this, but is playing the commercial stuff there. The whole time I knew him he was so down to earth.”
But the music was frequently overshadowed by Studio’s antics: the fucking on the balcony, the industrial quantities of drugs consumed, the celebrity whirlwind. It was more of a show, less of a club. Appropriate given its location. “Studio 54 was like going to see a movie,” says Danny Tenaglia. “It wasn’t about the music, it was a secondary factor. When you went there, it was gimmicky. It was the first club where you had people painting their whole body silver. ‘Oh there was somebody in there on a horse!’ People would talk about that instead of the music. So it was all about who was there: Liza Minelli, Diana Ross. The whole drama at the door of who could get in and who couldn’t.” 


Prior to its opening, Rubell and Schrager, who had been running a club out in Queens, were New York unknowns. But Rubell, in particular, revelled in his new-found fame; loved the drugs, the showing off, the power. Kenny Carpenter, another resident DJ there remembers an incident that epitomised his approach. “Rubell brings Calvin Klein, Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol to the booth. And he says, ‘Can you play ‘Your Love’ by Lime?’ ‘I’m sorry but I don’t have it and it’s not my kind of record.’ He says, ‘Well, listen, I own this club and I’ve got Bianca and Calvin and Andy and they wanna hear that record.’ I said, ‘Listen Steve. Sorry I don’t have that record, but even if I did have it, I wouldn’t play it because it’s not my style.’ He got mad. Stormed out of the booth. The following weekend, he hired Lime to perform live. And he stands looking at the booth, like, now I got Lime.” 


As befitted a club of such glorious excess, its stellar years were relatively short. A year after its opening Steve Rubell bragged to the press that, “only the Mafia made more money,” a fact that alerted the tax authorities. The club was raided by the IRS in December 1978, who found $2.5m stashed in garbage bags in the building. The pair were convicted of tax evasion and spent 13 months in jail.


Many people saw Studio 54 as a corrosive presence in disco. “There’s a scene at the end of the Last Days Of Disco where one of the characters has this very idealistic speech where he says disco was a whole movement,” remembers disco writer Vince Aletti. “It was funny, but it was really true and people felt that. They felt disappointed that the idealistic quality of it was being trampled over, in favour of money and celebrity. As much as disco was glitzy and certainly loved celebrity culture when people came to clubs, there was never a sense of it being driven by that. It was much more driven by an underground idea of unity.”


Studio 54 became the template for a certain kind of club, someway from what we’d now regard as the underground. It’s frequently cited as an influence in almost every sleek new entry onto the market, without any of the real glamour and excess achieved by Rubell and Schrager, never mind the heroic levels of drug-taking. When they were released from prison, Schrager opened the Palladium nightclub and went on to build a portfolio of influential boutique hotels. Steve Rubell died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989. In January of this year, Schrager received a full and unconditional pardon from President Obama. He is now entitled to vote.

WORDS: BILL BREWSTER | IMAGE: RICHARD P MANNING and others 26 APRIL 2017 http://po.st/xZrAmI

Egg presents: Erick Morillo (Extended Set) Tickets | Egg London London | Sat 19th November 2016 Lineup

Pirupa + Keinemusik – &Me, Adam Port, David Meyer

Line-up /

Main room:
Erick Morillo (Extended Set)
Pirupa
Emery Warman

Terrace:
Keinemusik feat.
&ME
Adam Port
David Mayer
Reznik

With a stack of awards on his mantle piece, Erick Morillo is one of house music’s most celebrated characters. From his 90s roots as part of New York’s legendary Strictly Rhythm label, where he recorded under a dizzying array of aliases, including RAW and Li’l Mo Ying Yang, to conquering the UK charts as part of Reel II Reel with ‘I Like to Move It’, the New York born DJ has always exuded star quality. His Subliminal label spawned its own party series and he became one of the world’s most prolific DJs, collaborating with huge names like Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, aka Puff Daddy. After a break in 2013, when his famous party lifestyle began to overshadow his DJing, he has since returned more vital and energetic than ever.

He’s joined by Pirupa. The Italian DJ and producer is best known for his 2012 Desolat smash ‘Party Non Stop’, but his versatile, often quirky house sound has also found a home on a dizzying array of labels including Drumcode, Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical, Defected, Cècille, Viva Music, Saved, Noir Music, Snatch! Records and Suara. It’s this kind of productivity and popularity that’s raised him up to become RA’s 11th most charted artist. His NONSTOP label, launched in 2015, has since become a further platform for his sound, as well as allowing him collaborate with newer acts.

Taking over the second room are Berlin label Keinemusik, founded in 2009, bringing with them their all-star crew. Joint founder &ME is also one half of Terranova, who released their second on Kompakt last year to great acclaim. He’s joined by the prolific Adam Port, whose teutonic house and techno sound has graced labels such as Rockets & Ponies, Cocoon and Pets Recordings. Alongside them are rising German stars David Mayer, another founding member of the label whose magic production touch has previously been sought out by numerous other artists, and Reznik, a Berlin DJ whose tastes stretch from post-punk to techno, via house, disco, electro and everything of note else in-between.

Music Genres:

Electro, House

 

Source: Egg presents: Erick Morillo (Extended Set) Tickets | Egg London London | Sat 19th November 2016 Lineup

Bedrock: John Digweed Tickets | Ministry Of Sound London | Sat 19th November 2016 Lineup

After the phenomenal Easter Thursday party, John Digweed’s Bedrock returns to Ministry of Sound to celebrate its 18 years in the dance music scene.

Lineup:

The Box:
John Digweed

103:
Lauren Lo Sung
Montel
GW Harrison

Baby Box:
To Be Announced

Loft:
To Be Announced

Music Genres:

House

Official website: http://www.johndigweed.com

John Digweed is a British DJ and record producer. He began DJing at around age 13. He realised the only way to break through was to start his own nightclub and book the big names like Carl Cox for him to play with. His break finally came when Sasha (real name Alexander Coe) played at Digweed’s Bedrock nightclub in Hastings. Sasha, impressed by what he heard, offered Digweed the residency with him at the now seminal club Renaissance, at that time in Mansfield.

Source: Bedrock: John Digweed Tickets | Ministry Of Sound London | Sat 19th November 2016 Lineup

Regression Sessions November | Fire London | Sat 19th November 2016 Lineup

Ticket Link Here – http://tinyurl.com/gwn3jczRegression Sessions is a night time experience designed to take you back to a freer state of being.

Regression Sessions is a night time experience designed to take you back to a freer, sillier state of being whilst enjoying a solid soundtrack of house, techno, hip hop, drum & bass. With a three-year track record of sold out parties, our unique combination of eccentric entertainment with a pan-genre music policy draws a thousand revellers every month to venues up and down the country.

Music Genres:

Drum n Bass, Hip Hop, House, Techno

Source: Regression Sessions November | Fire London | Sat 19th November 2016 Lineup

FMG Tickets | Union Club Vauxhall London | Wed 16th November 2016 Lineup

ous and Factory join forces for FMG

 

FMG Two of London’s favourite Club promotions, The Factory After Party & Glamorous join forces to create a unique, cosmopolitan & polysexual Wednesday night (weekly) experience @ the popular ‘Club Union’ in the heart of Vauxhall strip from 12am-8am bringing to you the freshest mix in both underground and popular dance/house music. Doors open 12 Midnight – 8am @ Club UNION – 66 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall London. SE17TP (UK). Nearest Tube, Train & Bus station: Vauxhall. DJs playing the best: House / Deep / Tech / Electro / Vocal House. *********************************************************** KIERAN HALL (Factory) DJ NG (Peggys / Reprezent) MARLON K (Factory) OWEN BROWN (Factory) KAOS KID (Glamorous) WORK (93 Feet East) + special guests Doors open 12am-8am (maybe later) Admission: Members: £5 Standard entry: £10 otherwise. Entrance FREE if its your Birthday week!

Music Genres:

Deep/Soulful House, House, Techno

Source: FMG Tickets | Union Club Vauxhall London | Wed 16th November 2016 Lineup