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Composing the’ decadent autumn nature’ of nightclubs

Famous golf-clubs have offered artists the perfect programme to design fantasy media, 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 snort” Man and the Spoon” peculiarity that they are able to condescend from the ceiling when required, there are still mounds of cash in the back area, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor led by a naked soldier covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which is available in a brand-new show about world-wide fraternity culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy milieu to act as backdrop for the outrageous garbs and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were sagged 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 insured the rise of the idea that you don’t layout a nightclub, you bring the negligible blueprint ingredients to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a pattern historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical seat- genuinely the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through igniting and sound, psychotropic stimulants and parties .”

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

A brand-new stage set would induce a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have sufficed as seats for freedom of expression and safe infinites because they’re concealed ,” says Rossi.” They’re hide from daytime criteria and premises about behaviour and identity. At darknes 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 squad had a door policy where exclusively celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those seeking their 15 minutes of prominence. This was a surreal, decadent, autumn world-wide and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the society burnishing their likenes and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating fortune of layout detail to go with the photographs and frameworks- interior furnishings, illuminating, album motif, style, and the graphics of flyers and postings. One of the exhibition rooms will be devoted to a sound and illuminating installing, without quite being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibit about nightclubs ,” justifies Rossi,” then elements like atmosphere and know are key parts of the design of the cavities and how that blueprint is eaten or experienced .”

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

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York clubs, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a artistic scaffold to artists. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and requests, arranged exhibitions and facilities, and painted a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, covering Grace Jones with his signature kinetic gleans for a live act at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famed squad that features 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 municipalities ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of rooms from warehouses to mills .” 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 conversation of factory interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of articles extending through the infinite, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were sucking and dancing. I made stripes normally used as hazard markings 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 heightened dance storey, so I use roadside bollards and prepare cat’s seeings into the concrete storey. The industrial expression advanced through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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