The Litgh and Lust of Studio 54

Endless nights and endless dances. That was the only thing that everyone in the 70s was sure about. Meet Studio 54.

 

 

 

In March 2022, it completed thirty-six years since the closing of the legendary Studio 54 nightclub, which was located in New York and was considered “the wildest nightclub in the world”.

The late 70s was a time when rock music, in general, was boring, the United States was in recession, and the Vietnam War was just over.  Politically, economically and musically things weren’t going so well for America. Such factors, together with the beginning of mechanical music and synthesizers, led to the emergence of a new musical rhythm, disco music. Its main representative, in addition to the film Saturday Nigth Fever, was the Studio 54 disco.

 

Bianca Jagger rides in on a white horse inside the Studio 54 at her birthday party

Personalities such as Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, and Debbie Harry were just a few of a long list of celebrities who roamed the club. However, going to Studio 54 was one thing, entering there was quite another.

Shown from left: Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager stood outside the door of Studio 54 in New York City, on December 14, 1978.

 

Located in Manhattan,  the club was opened by Steve Rubell (December 2, 1943 – July 25, 1989) who was an American entrepreneur, and Ian Schrager (July 19, 1946) an American entrepreneur, hotelier, and real estate developer credited for co-creating the “boutique hotel” category of accommodation. The building in which was once a major theater and studio for CBS.

 

 

Vivid tones, bright neon, and disco ball lights retain the TV’s former, theatrical sets and name sign big and high on the 54th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Launched at the peak of the disco dancing and music trend, the club became world-famous, noted for its celebrity guest lists, restrictive and rampant club drug use, and open sexual activity in the club’s infamous balcony and basement VIP rooms.

The line to get inside the most coveted nightclub that New York ever seem was endless. People could wait hours to get inside and dance among the stars.
The anxious crowd was determined to wait hours if needed to be one of Steve’s doormen, elected. The subjective entry policy was based on one’s appearance and style. But everyone, rich or poor, straight or gay, famous or not famous was welcome, the only request was to carry style, a good vibration, and to make a strong impression on whoever it was at the door.

In fact being rich, well-known, or talented was never a free pass that guaranteed a spot inside. Just like Warren Beatty and Robert Duvall reportedly didn’t make it past the doormen on opening night, and the disco band Chic famously wrote their No. 1 hit “Le Freak” after getting rejected on New Year’s Eve 1977.

Most of the time spirited Steve, surrounded by security guards, stood at the door of the building classifying each person and allowing only a few to enter. After all, there was an audience every night to overcrowd as many times as he wanted.

Later, under the direction of the two boys, that place would become the most disputed disco club in the world. With many friends and acquaintances, Steve Rubell had an innate talent for human relations, and as soon as he opened his new business, thousands of people flocked to the Studio entrance.

 

 

 

 

NY, July 1977

 

Grace Jones Show

Sex, drugs, and disco music. That was the goal of Studio 54 and its regulars. Several disco music and post-disco music groups such as Village People, Donna Summer, and James Brown performed live. The glamour, matching the profile of the audience and their interests, gave that club the headlines not only in America but in Europe and also in Brazil.

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