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Making the’ decadent twilight world-wide’ of nightclubs

Famous associations have offered creators the perfect programme to design fantasy environments, says Chris Hall

Caligula throwing a party ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the legendary Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snort” Man and the Spoon” boast that they are able to descend from the ceiling when required, there are still slews of cash in the back room, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor led by a naked humanity covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a brand-new exhibition about world-wide guild culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different imagination environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous attires and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were drooped 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 attended the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you bringing the negligible blueprint 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 infinite- really the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through igniting and sound, psychotropic stimulants and beings .”

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

A new stage set would induce a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have acted as infinites for freedom of expression and safe openings because they’re concealed ,” says Rossi.” They’re obscure from daytime criteria and assumptions about behaviour and identity. At nighttime 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 possibilities. The squad had a door policy where only celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those seeking their 15 instants of fame. This was a surreal, decadent, twilight macrocosm and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the association burnishing their epitome and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating resource of motif detail to go with the photographs and simulations- interior furnishings, lighting, album blueprint, mode, and the graphics of flyers and postings. One of the exhibition chambers will be devoted to a din and lighting installing, without quite being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” illustrates Rossi,” then elements like atmosphere and ordeal are key parts of the design of the rooms and how that motif is depleted 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 golf-clubs, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a imaginative programme to artists. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and summons, organized exhibitions and facilities, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, painting Grace Jones with his signature kinetic sucks for a live recital at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famous sorority that features heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have evolved in line with the changing nature of our metropolitans ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of openings 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 conversation of mill interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of towers moving through the room, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were boozing and dancing. I set stripes normally used as hazard stigmatizes in the workplace on the columns 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 developed dance storey, so I expended roadside bollards and define cat’s seeings into the concrete storey. The industrial communication advanced through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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