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Forming the’ decadent sunset world’ of nightclubs

Famous clubs have offered artists the perfect platform to design fantasy environments, says Chris Hall

Caligula throwing a party ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the famous Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snort” Man and the Spoon” facet that they are able to pitch from the ceiling when required, there are still collections of cash in the back area, unisex showers and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a horse on the dancefloor led by a naked guy covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a brand-new exhibit about world golf-club culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different imagination environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous outfits and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were descended from the club’s ceiling on New Year’s Eve or when the fashion designer Valentino had a circus-themed birthday party with sand and mermaids on trapezes.

” The 60 s and 70 s learnt the increase of the idea that you don’t layout a nightclub, you accompanying the negligible motif factors to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a design historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical cavity- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through igniting and sound, psychotropic medications and people .”

A home to crash: Manchester’s post-industrial Hacienda with hazard-marking stripes on the lines. Photograph: Courtesy of Ben Kelly

A new stage set would stimulate a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have provided as infinites for freedom of expression and safe infinites because they’re disguised ,” says Rossi.” They’re obscured from daytime standards and beliefs about behaviour and identity. At night we can try out different identities .”

Playing with personas was something Andy Warhol was drawn to at Studio 54, where he would document this emerging culture with its transformative alternatives. The association had a door policy where simply celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those striving their 15 minutes of popularity. This was a surreal, decadent, twilight world-wide and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the squad burnishing their likenes and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating wealth of layout detail to go with the photographs and examples- interior furnishings, illuminating, book pattern, fad, and the graphics of flyers and signs. One of the exhibition areas will be devoted to a music and lighting facility, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” excuses Rossi,” then elements like flavor and ordeal are key parts of the design of the cavities and how that designing is spent or knowledge .”

Staying cool: the Philippe Starck-designed Les Bains Douches in Paris. Photograph: Foc Kan

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York fraternities, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a creative stage to artists. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and requests, formatted exhibitions and installings, and painted a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, painting Grace Jones with his signature kinetic drawings for a live recital at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famous fraternity that boasts heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have derived in line with the changing nature of our metropolis ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of cavities from warehouses to plants .” Whereas Studio 54 was about exclusivity and decadence, the Hacienda was about inclusivity and a different kind of escapism. In short, it was the difference between cocaine and ecstasy.

Ben Kelly, who designed the Hacienda, says that it seemed logical to him to use the visual expression of mill interiors given that it was a former ship showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of articles guiding through the space, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were boozing and dancing. I threw stripes normally used as hazard distinguishes in the workplace on the pillars in the nightclub, and yellow-and-black stripes on to the riser of the stage. There was another safety issue getting on and off the promoted dance storey, so I exploited roadside bollards and mount cat’s eyes into the concrete flooring. The industrial speech progressed through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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