The legendary ’70s disco — and specifically the rise and fall of Steve Rubell, who co-founded it — is the subject of a Tommy Tune-directed musical trying out in Florida!
In case they’re open to some disco-survivor input, I have a few glittery recollections to share from my water-colored scrapbook:
The place evolved like a mirage in the middle of a horrible recession and a decade of dashed hopes and cynicism, thanks to depressing developments like Vietnam and Watergate.
It became a haven for the famous, beautiful, and aspiring to check their minds at the door and indulge in pure hedonism, with shiny set pieces descending at odd moments, glittery confetti shooting into your eyeballs, and a throbbing, pulsing soundtrack to which you could do drugs in the basement, have sex in the balcony, or dance alongside Margaux Hemingway, Dolly Parton, or Liza Minnelli on the main floor, in the days when celebs were way less agoraphobic and protected.
By closing time, when they played Donna Summer‘s “The Last Dance,” you didn’t want it to end, but you forced yourself home and tried to get in again the next night, praying your quilted kimono outfit would read from the edge of the pavement and more importantly that the imperious doorman wouldn’t be tired of you by then.
The longer you stood there being rejected, the worse your chances got, and the thought of giving up and going to the second-best club — Xenon — was worse than death, so you did everything, and I mean everything, to gain admittance.
Since I was press even then, I counted on Rubell himself to appear at the door and drag me in for a good time — which he did — one time informing me, “Elton John is coming! Don’t tell anyone!”
(Of course I told everyone, which was exactly Rubell’s plan. He was a master buzz builder.)
The guy was sexily nebbishy, angstily charismatic, and could be quite brutal in telling wannabe entrants, “You look wrong,” or, “Dump your wife and you’ll get in.”
This Sophie’s Choice-style dilemma resulted in many a spouse saying “Goodnight, honey” as they grandly entered Studio rather than show any boring old familial solidarity.
They’d have fun now and pay the price later.
Can’t wait to see what Tune and company do with this project.
I hope they include the scene where a couple of crepe machines were wheeled out to serve 2,000 people after Grace Jones performed — the best New Year’s Eve I ever had.