Famous fraternities have offered masters the perfect stage to design fantasy surroundings, says Chris Hall
Caligula hurling “states parties ” ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the legendary Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snorting” Man and the Spoon” aspect that would descend from the ceiling when required, there were slews of cash in the back room, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger razzing a horse on the dancefloor led by a naked soldier covered in golden glitter.
The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a brand-new exhibition about world society culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy environ to act as backdrop for the shocking costumes and theatre of the party goers- such as when four million tonnes sheen were fallen from the club’s ceiling on New Year’s Eve or when the clothes designer Valentino had a circus-themed birthday party with sand and mermaids on trapezes.
” The 60 s and 70 s ensure the increases of the notion that you don’t design a nightclub, you create the negligible pattern components 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 space- certainly the nightclub is just a receptacle. Clubs are cleared through lighting and sound, psychotropic dopes and people .”
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