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Developing the’ decadent twilight world’ of nightclubs

Famous squads have offered masters the perfect stage 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” aspect that would tumble from the ceiling where needed, there were piles 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-wide sorority culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasize environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous attires and theatre of the working 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 recognized the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you drawing the minimal motif points 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- truly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic medicines and beings .”

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

A brand-new stage set would induce a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have dished as seats for freedom of expression and safe openings because they’re obstructed ,” says Rossi.” They’re obscured from daytime standards and presumptions 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 squad had a door policy where merely celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those striving their 15 minutes of popularity. This was a surreal, decadent, sunset world-wide and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the club burnishing their portrait and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating abundance of motif detail to go with the photographs and representations- interior furnishings, illuminating, album intend, pattern, and the graphics of flyers and postings. One of the exhibition chambers will be given to a resonate and illuminating 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 environment and know are key parts of the design of the seats and how that design is destroyed 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 sororities, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a imaginative scaffold to creators. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and biddings, set exhibits and facilities, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, covering Grace Jones with his signature kinetic pulls for a live rendition at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famed squad 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 metropolis ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of openings from warehouses to plants .” 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 usage of plant interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of columns flowing through the space, which unavoidably would be hazardous where people were drinking and dancing. I made stripes normally used as hazard tags in the workplace on the towers 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 parent dance storey, so I used roadside bollards and define cat’s gazes into the concrete storey. The industrial language derived through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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