For almost a decade in New York City, there was a club that defined clubbing for the generations to come. Studio 54 became the benchmark by which clubbers would measure all subsequent nightclubs. In truth, while there have been bigger and more fantastic venues serving the club scene since then, none will ever claim the star-studded status held by that little club on 54th Street in Manhattan.
The entrance to Studio 54 was between 8th and Broadway, on (big surprise) 54th Street. The local was originally constructed as the Gallo Opera House, but the space functioned a casino for awhile, and then a theater house until 1942. That was when CBS took it over to make it a radio and television studio, naming it Studio 52. Then, in 1977 it became Studio 54. It would close for a year in 1980, but reopened in ’81 again as Studio 54 until 1986.
The Dance Floor
What made the dance floor of Studio 54 unique was the previous tenants. When CBS cleared out, they left behind a network of electrical outlets for the owners of Studio 54. This gave the chance to redefine the club scene. They ran lights everywhere and set up choreographed light shows like a stage performance. Until then, clubs were dark places. Studio 54 was a brightly lit, evolving space perfect for hosting dynamic performances and boogying. Clubbers mingled with performers, everyday folks with celebrities, and the lines between the stage and the auditorium blurred.