Oh So Disco

Oh So Disco

If ever there was a time and place in history worth revisiting  it’s got to be  New York city circa mid to late seventies. Studio 54 to be precise.  Home to 700 plus exclusive partygoers  who every night celebrated glamour, decadence and excess. Never before or since has night clubbing looked so good.

Bianca Jagger dancing at Studio 54

Disco anthems sang of shallow partying that went on for days and resumed without question the following evening. How fabulous it must have been for those involved,  dressing up like their lives depended on it and then parading and sharing the splendour in nights of  high-spirited heady fun.

The disco scene’s energising and seductive marriage  of  New York’s art, music and fashion worlds resulted in an iconic  aesthetic of ice cool glamour epitomised in the portraits of photographer Ron Galella.

Dance and fashion fused with the celebrity and art worlds under the refracted lights of glass globes. The door policy is legendary. Beauty, success and celebrity would not always guarantee you entry but it definitely upped your chances. The global and lasting  impact of the club lay in its carefully calculated mix of revellers. An amazon of  ’70s supermodels including all American golden girl Lauren Hutton, Texan Jerry Hall and ill fated beauty Gia, shook their booty alongside  rock icons and artists.  The occasional unknown and oddballs  added intrigue.

Studio 54 was built on nothing if not self belief.  Promoter Steve Rubell and club goers alike embraced the American ideals of thinking big and making a splash. Flamboyance was in vogue, resulting in moments of celluloid history such as  Bianca Jagger riding  into the famous nightclub astride a white horse.  Budgets and self promotion were unhindered allowing for some colossal ego expansion.

Bianca Jagger making an entrance on a white horse

The bold and the beautiful spun and shimmied in show stopping Halston’ and  Ozzie Clark creations.  Halston created minimal designs in luxurious modern fabrics. Cut was everything.  Exquisite draped jersey halter dresses and pant suits allowed the wearers freedom of movement and freedom of expression. Love beads  and flower power were out and affluence and prestige were in.  Think lustre, think legs and think long, long nights.  It was a Bacchanalian era where looking good and feeling good where all that mattered and at the former they succeeded without question.  The international  lifestyle of the club’s jet setting elite was reflected in exotic fashion accents  like Afghan jackets, turbans and the kaftan. The minimalism and simplicity of the form fitting gowns were also offset by bold accessories and outrageous behaviour.

Halston, Bianca, Grace Jones and Andy Warhol at Studio 54

“In every corner you’d see somebody you read about in a paper or a friend or Beautiful People or mad people. Major, major stars. All the social people. You had a blend of society that had never happened before. It was like a movie.” Halston said of the era.

‘The Studio’ as it became known has been richly  documented in several films. Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale donned bored expressions and glitter eye shadow for the  sardonic period piece Last Days of Disco.  54, directed by Mark Christopher, covered the lives of the scene’s  key figures. Controversial auteur Spike Lee  gave us his take in Summer of Sam, a strange film that set a serial killer plot line against the backdrop of disco hungry hedonists.

Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale in the Last Days of Disco (1998)

Designers and high street stores are all plundering the seventies this summer and disco’s glamourous influence  is there too, seducing us  back onto the dance floors  in billowing voluminous  flowing maxi dresses,  white tuxedo jackets, funky jumpsuits  and ultra high strappy sandals.  Today, with  the climate of  austerity measures and economic uncertainty, a philosophy of dressing to the nines, dancing  till you drop, eschewing all and anything mundane and the inevitable understanding: same thing, same time tomorrow, seems worth considering.

Eighties We Love You!

My girlfriends and I did the Time warp at the weekend. I mean both figuratively and literally.     The venue was The Reflex Club at St Paul’s London. Average age nnnnn nineteen provided you took us out of the equation . On arrival I had a sneaking but rather cloudy suspicion that I was there before circa 1993. I fared a whole lot better this time. The theme park eighties night clubbing experience ages well it seems.

It was a nostalgia spectacular. Cheese, kitsch and frankly some very poor taste did nothing to take from the overwhelming fun feeling. It brought me smack back to  a time when the future was filled with exciting promise and bra tops. Twenty years vanished once we hit the illuminated tiles which I might add were mopped with extraordinary dexterity and perplexing regularity.

All the usual suspects  were spotted and some surprisingly obscure ones too. We saw Top Gun Tom Cruise, Bianca Jagger, an army of Cyndis,  Madonna’s plus A Flock of Seagull’s  lead singer, My eyes have never seen so much neon. Clearly one store is making a killing by flogging the decade on a single trend.

It is so amusing and curious to see the next generation take on the era that formed me and my aspirations. According to this lot it was all underpants and cheap fluorescent lycra. And of course comedy shades. The mood was captured but the finer essences and nuances were somewhat missing. Chutzpah triumphed where accuracy failed and some truly hilarious results had me smiling all night. More to some people is definitely more.The rule being if in doubt remove an outer garment then furnish the deficit with more more pink and lime bangles.

Us lot having lived it opted for a somewhat more pared down approach. We preferred to use accents and little flourishes in our tribute. Affectionately nodding towards the decade with careful accessorising. Personally I think we excelled.

The evening’s hilarious shenanigans were interrupted by the bizarrely surreal dance floor announcement of Whiteny Houston’s untimely death. We did the only decent  thing and gave it socks to three of her biggest hits thus fermenting the memory forever.

Highlight of the evening had to be Annette’s spectacular rock out to Run Dmc. She thrashed to the beat, blonde hair a flaying like a regular hormone charger teenager. The excitement of It tipped me over the edge resulting in a wardrobe malfunction. Thankfully it was good and dark.