Famous societies have offered masters the perfect programme to design fantasy milieu, says Chris Hall
Caligula throwing a party ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the famed Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snorting” Man and the Spoon” feature that they are able to condescend from the ceiling when required, there were slews of cash in the back room, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor led by a naked male covered in gold glitter.
The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new exhibition about global club culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasize home to act as backdrop for the outrageous costumes and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were declined 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 accompanied the rise of the idea that you don’t intend a nightclub, you introducing the minimal design elements to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a layout historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical opening- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic doses and people .”
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