In what is starting to be a trend, the older set will have another reason to break out the spandex, leather jackets and pointy shoes as the folks who worship at the altar of everything Danceteria will have their day, er, night. Joe Stanich, known as the beloved Joe the Manager, has enlisted my help to put together a soiree’ for the infamous nightclub. I facebooked owner John Argento to get his blessing. I said, John, we need to do this, as none of us are getting any younger. It’s been 30 years since it began, Joe reckoned. Plus, everyone had such a blast at Tommy Gunn’s event at The Bowery Electric last month. Hopefully Tommy will come and relax and play with everyone this time, instead of running around like rockstar on acid. John blessed us and we will party like its 1985.
There were three NYC Danceteria locations, and a Hamptons entry. There are still very active Danceteria websites, as the events that shaped this club shaped a large segment of our culture and galvanized friendships still strong after decades. When you google Danceteria, you will find Madonna’s first performance. You will be told of Grace Jones, the Beastie Boys, Sade, The Smiths, Marc Almond, R.E.M, Nina Hagen, Billy Idol, Sisters of Mercy, Duran Duran, LL Cool J, Nick Cave, Bauhaus, Lydia Lunch, Debbie Harry, Futura 2000, Keith Haring, Russell Simmons, Sonic Youth, Afrika Bambatta, Mark Kamins, Run DMC, Edwige Belmore, Maripol, Fab Five Freddy, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Alan Vega, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, Lydia Lunch, Tito Puente, Johnny Dynell, The Bush Tetras, The Pogues, Ann Magnuson, The Cramps, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, The Go Go’s, Devo, The B52’s and Gang of Four. I left out a thousand acts, performers, personalities and scenesters. Chris Isaak played the super chic Congo Bill floor for a month. I produced 50 fashion shows there with partners Susan Arkun and Ivy Bernhard. Isabel Toledo of Michelle Obama fame was part of a New Orleans fashion show which was embraced by the 1984 World Fair. The fair flew John Sex and a cast of characters to the quiet city of New Orleans to liven things up.
When I was naming the 5 best clubs of all time, Danceteria and Nells were closely considered. I decided the 5 best were studio 54, Area, the World, Max’s Kansas City and the Paradise Garage. It is easily arguable that Danceteria is there. Out of a zillion clubs I am hard pressed to remember better. It had everything. It was sex, rock and roll, great DJ’s, gays, straights and everything in between and beyond. There were celebrities and debutants, punks, sluts and wannabe rockers, hipsters and slumming swells. It was fashion, breaking music, and art. It was cabaret with Haoui Montaug or Karen Finley. Karen bartended I believe, as did the mother of the Steve Lewis club career Chi Chi Valenti. It was busboy Michael Alig throwing little events that couldn’t find enough room. It was Ruth Polsky booking bands destined to stardom almost every day. Her tragic death haunts us through the years. It was Rudolf who is still so relevant, franchising clubs like Lotus and others in South America.
It was the sleaziest, easiest place I ever attended to have a close encounter of the third, fourth or whatever kind. I followed dating rules like don’t take home anyone who’s hair can hurt you, or get close enough to smell her before you seduce her. Seduction in the age before we understood what AIDS was, went like this: “You’re hot, finish your drink and lets get out of here.” I rarely knew names. Sometime eye contact was all that was necessary. I met my wife Jennifer there in a video booth. Clubs had DJs and VJs. I was chastising her VJ boyfriend Ben for putting porno on the monitors throughout the club. We had gotten a ticket for it. He argued it was art, and in the middle of his silly soliloquy his voice faded and my eyes which had been distracted by the illicit activities on the surrounding monitors stopped on Jen’s. We stared at each other and I didn’t see much else for a dozen years.
You can catch a glimpse of the place in Desperately Seeking Susan, the 30 W21 Street incarnation of the club which I believe had all the licensing and was home to me. “You can’t go home again,” said some asshole, but you can get together over cocktails or cokes and talk with old friends. The best memories might be the ones we have forgotten, just as the best of us won’t be able to attend. Ruth Polsky, Haoui Montaug, John Sex and The International Chrysis and so many others have passed from AIDS, accident, or living hard. The get together will be held Sunday, May 9, at 8pm at the Aspen Social Club, 157 west 47th Street. There will be great DJs and a crowd that has seen and done it all and will now gather to chat about it.
The closing of m2 just before their weekend revenue stream is no shock to any of us who watch the continued construction on W27th Street and 28th Street. I called an in-the-know sort who told me, “Typical cop bullshit, there were a couple of minor fights and undercover smelled marijuana and of course cigarettes.” The funny thing about the smelled marijuana part is, if the cop couldn’t actually find the culprit how can club security be faulted?