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Generating the’ decadent sunset macrocosm’ of nightclubs

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

Caligula throwing “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” feature that would tumble from the ceiling where needed, there are still stockpiles of cash in the back chamber, unisex lavatories 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 exhibit about world society culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fiction environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were put 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 watched the rise of the idea that you don’t designing a nightclub, you returning the negligible motif parts to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a motif historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical cavity- truly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic doses and beings .”

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

A new stage set would inspire a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have provided as spaces for freedom of expression and safe openings because they’re buried ,” says Rossi.” They’re hide from daytime norms and presuppositions 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 fraternity had a door policy where only celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those attempting their 15 times of honour. 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 organization burnishing their likenes and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating capital of pattern detail to go with the photographs and patterns- interior furnishings, igniting, album layout, way, and the graphics of flyers and signs. One of the exhibition rooms will be given to a seem and lighting station, without quite being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” excuses Rossi,” then elements like atmosphere and know are key parts of the design of the rooms and how that design is ingested 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 guilds, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a innovative pulpit to masters. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and invitations, set exhibitions and installings, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, coating Grace Jones with his signature kinetic traces for a live action at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famous sorority that peculiarity heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have advanced in line with the changing nature of our cities ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of cavities from warehouses to factories .” 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 speech of factory interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of columns guiding through the infinite, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were drinking and dancing. I employed stripes normally used as hazard brands in the workplace on the editorials 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 raised dance floor, so I expended roadside bollards and define cat’s seeings into the concrete flooring. The industrial communication progressed through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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