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Studio 54

Related: Kenny Carpenter - nightclubs - disco - New York music


Studio 54 was a legendary New York City disco [club] located on West 54th St. The was formerly a CBS radio and TV studio that housed such shows as What's My Line? and The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1950's.

It opened on April 16, 1977 and closed in 1980. It was operated by the flamboyant, openly gay, publicly visible Steve Rubell and retiring, straight silent partner Ian Schrager. Hedonistic Rubell was known for hand selecting guests from the always huge mobs outside, mixing beautiful "nobodies" with glamorous celebrities in the same venue. "Studio", as it came to be called, was inside of an old theater; the balconies were notorious for sexual encounters, and drug use was rampant. Its dance floor was decorated with a depiction of a man-in-the-moon that included an animated coke spoon.

In 1979, Rubell and Schrager were arrested and charged for skimming $2.5 million. Loads of cocaine and money were found in the club's walls. The "last dance" had finally come, and the disco babylon came crashing down the following year.

During its heyday it played a formative role in the growth of disco music and nightclub culture in general, and was one of the first nightclubs to blur the distinction between "straight" and "gay" nightlife.

The disco was depicted in the 1998 movie 54 and parodied in the 2002 movie Austin Powers in Goldmember as Studio 69. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_54 [Mar 2005]

Steve Rubell as Maitre d'Street

Steve Rubell used to be the most hated man in New York. "I had the most important job in the city, and people wanted to kill me for it," he once told me. "I couldn't walk the streets because guys would roll down their car windows and shout abuse at me for not letting them in. Either that or they'd try to bribe me - with money, drugs, sometimes even their girlfriends. But I never buckled. How could I? My reputation depended on it." --Dylan Jones (Times, 1998/08/02)

Rubell was the co-owner and self-anointed "maitre d'street" of the holy grail of nightclubs, Studio 54, the cathedral of dance where Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Calvin Klein and Mick and Bianca Jagger regularly rubbed satin shoulders with wannabes from Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens as hundreds of unsuccessful nobodies jammed the pavements outside. In Studio 54 during the late 1970s, every night was New Year's Eve. "Towards midnight, people would get embarrassingly desperate if I wouldn't let them in," says Rubell. "I think I caused more than one nervous breakdown and more than a few broken romances." (Rubell used deliberately to split couples up, only allowing one of them in.) --Dylan Jones (Times, 1998/08/02)


I was just speaking to a friend of mine, about the movie Studio 54 and Steve Rubell, and all that blahzay blahzay.

And, we started talking about our favorite clubs from back then. We would all go home afterwork take a nap get dressed and head out to the clubs around 1 or 2 am. We would always go to at least 1 of 3 clubs. The Garage, Better Days, and The Loft @99 Prince St.

The Garage, Better Days, were the clubs, that we as young single black women, could just go to dance, and not be harassed by men, you always felt safe. The guys treated us like their baby sisters or something, totally protective, it was incredible. Much love.

We have countless stories of our times there. I remember Larry Levan mixing and remixing 'Don't Make Me Wait' for what seemed to be hours at a time and people sweatin' and screamin' and dancin' non-stop. Total madness. So much fun. The sense of excitement and anticipation praying that our friend who was a member hadn't forgotten to put our names on the guestlist. When we went to The Loft, we'd pack a change of clothes in our little shoulderbags, then change clothes in the bathroom and check our bags at the coat-check. Oh my goodness, and coming out of that club on Sunday morning or afternoon, trying to straighten-up, and look decent 'cause we had to hop on the train, and we didn't want the church-goers staring at us and shielding their kids, when they saw us. Those 3 clubs in particular, to me, were the best parties, and all I can say is that you just had to have lived through it to fully appreciate it.

The best clubs were always the black gay clubs. Anyway I could go on forever, but I just wanted to let you know I love your website. Thanks!


  1. Studio 54, Volume 1 (1998) - Various Artists [1 CD, Amazon US]
    1. Studio 54 - Fifty Four All-Stars 2. Keep on Dancin' - Gary's Gang 3. Boss - Diana Ross 4. Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) - Chic 5. Vertigo/Relight My Fire - Dan Hartman 6. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) - Sylvester 7. Move on Up - Destination 8. Love Machine, Pt. 1 - The Miracles 9. Contact - Edwin Starr 10. Knock on Wood - Mary Griffin 11. Let's Start the Dance - Bohannon 12. I Got My Mind Made Up - Instant Funk 13. Young Hearts Run Free - Candi Staton 14. Native New Yorker - Odyssey 15. Que Sera Mi Vida - The Gibson Brothers 16. Wishing on a Star - Rose Royce
    As if the genre didn't have enough stigmas to transcend, countless nostalgic compilations have done disco additional disservice by reducing the canon to a handful of obvious tunes trotted out endlessly. Fortunately, by including lesser-known gems like the Gibson Brothers' "Que Sera Mi Vida" next to classics by Sylvester, Dan Hartman, and Chic, the music supervisors of 54 have assembled irrefutable proof that the late '70s weren't the musical wasteland those idiots who torched their Donna Summer LPs claimed. However, the producers apparently weren't entirely immune to the commercial leanings that undermined disco via overexposure; program your CD player to skip the annoying cut-and-paste medley "Studio 54" and Mary Griffin's updated "Knock on Wood," which pales next to Amii Stewart's chart-topping 1979 reading. --Kurt B. Reighley for amazon.com [for completists only, the Studio 54 was blahzay] [...]
  2. Studio 54, the Underground Classics - Kenny Carpenter [Amazon US]
    1. 3 million synths - Jankel, Chas 2. Magnificent dance - Clash 3. I'll do anything for you - Morgan, Denroy 4. Love sensation - Holloway, Loleatta 5. Can't fake the feeling - Hunt, Geraldine 6. You're the one for me - D-Train 7. Let's go dancin' - Sparque 8. Take a chance - Pleasure 9. I'm in love - King, Evelyn 'Champagne' 10. Paradise - Change 11. Haven't been funked enough - Extras 12. Candidate for love - Monk, T.S. 13. Mysteries of the world - MFSB 14. Can't keep holding on - Second Image

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