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Creating the’ decadent twilight nature’ of nightclubs

Famous fraternities have offered artists the perfect stage to design fantasy environments, says Chris Hall

Caligula throwing “states parties ” ,” 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” aspect that they are able to condescend from the ceiling when required, there were pilings 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 new show about world-wide guild culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings 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 identified the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you raising the negligible designing parts to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a design historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical seat- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic medicines and parties .”

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

A brand-new stage set would stimulate a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have acted as cavities for freedom of expression and safe openings because they’re concealed ,” says Rossi.” They’re hidden from daytime criteria and presuppositions 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 prospects. The guild had a door policy where simply celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those searching their 15 times of reputation. 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 organization burnishing their image and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating property of pattern detail to go with the photographs and examples- interior furnishings, lighting, book intend, mode, and the graphics of flyers and signs. One of the exhibition rooms will be devoted to a voice and illuminating facility, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” explains Rossi,” then elements like flavor and know are key parts of the design of the cavities and how that designing is spent or suffered .”

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

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York sororities, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a creative pulpit to creators. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and summons, organized exhibitions and stations, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, coating Grace Jones with his signature kinetic portrayals for a live execution at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another legendary 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 cities ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of seats 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 language of factory interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of pillars moving through the infinite, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were boozing and dancing. I gave stripes normally used as hazard tags 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 developed dance flooring, so I applied roadside bollards and place cat’s attentions into the concrete floor. The industrial usage derived through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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