Studio 54

After the seriousness of Watergate wore off, between The Pill and AIDS, at that same juncture in time when Richard Hell had built the stage at CBGB to break down the barrier between audience and performer, it was the best of times and would become the worst for two guys from Brooklyn who’d met while in college. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager decided to open the ultimate dance club, where the libertine spirit could rage as blacks and gays and celebrity blended. Built in just six weeks by volunteer theater people sans unions in the seedy westside theater district, in what had been the old CBS television studio where What’s My Line? had been shot (bringing through its doors such luminaries as Groucho Marx, Lucy & Desi and Salvador Dali), Studio 54 hosted exclusive parties nightly, attended by the jet set including Bianca Jagger, Michael Jackson and Andy Warhol. It became the place to be seen in NYC for the 33 months it existed. Roped off to the casual club goer, it was the press-active nightspot where entry was next to impossible and disappointment only fueled the passion to try again. Resentments and hard feeling would lead to the December ’78 raid by IRS agents and charges of cocaine use and profit skimming, landing the two owners in jail. Director Matt Tyrnauer (Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood) uses archival news reports and interviews to encapsulate the feel and clutter of the mid ’70s NYC disco scene at the beginning of the cult of celebrity that still prevails.