Anyone who’s anyone has heard of Studio 54. If you grew up in the 1970s, there’s a chance you explored in some of the debaucheries that the decade offered. Well, nowhere embodies that carefree culture more than Studio 54.
Each night, Americans could sing and dance their troubles away. In the years full of Watergate and the Vietnam War, it was as important as ever to relax and enjoy some of life’s best vices. So, let’s take a look inside the New York nightclub.
Studio 54 Summed Up The ‘70s
Most people will recall the craziness of the 1970s. America was in the middle of an endless war with Vietnam, economic inflation was rising at questionable rates, and the President of the United States had just resigned. With all that pressure, there had to be a place where people could relax.
The building itself was built in 1927 as a television studio. Over the years, it went through many changes and upgrades. Finally, it opened its doors in 1977 as a fully fledged nightclub. Suddenly, it became the place to be.
Liza Minnelli And Shoes
We guess it’s true what they say about women and shoes! Here we can see a younger Liza Minnelli exploring some of the more exciting fashion options from the 1970s. For example, have you ever seen such crazy shoes?
Well, in 2019 you probably have. But still, the 1970s was the perfect time for celebs and other rich folks to explore new fashion and music trends. Studio 54 was the perfect place to try out new and exciting things.
Gracing Us With Her Presence
If you’re Grace Jones, you know how to make an entrance! The gorgeous supermodel and singer epitomizes some of the feel-good vibes of the decade. During some of her most successful years, here she is blowing off some steam.
With her golden eye make and purple frolic, the woman certainly knew how to party! This glamorous time in American history is truly on good display here. Jones went on to be a beautiful Bond girl in 1985’s A View To Kill.
Is It A Party Without MJ?
Of course, if it’s the 1970s, then you’re going to have a visit from Michael Jackson. Ever since he was a child, the King of Pop was a superstar wherever he went. By the time Jackson entered his late teens and early 20s, the singer would head to the nightclubs. Naturally, Studio 54 was one of them.
This classic photo shows the afro on full display – truly a sign of the times. Over the years, Jackson’s look would develop but his talent would stay the same. The popstar is greatly missed, 10 years after his death.
Here is Bette Midler doing anything but! This classic photo shows the actress meeting The Temptations – one of the most iconic bands of the 1970s. We can see just by the look on her face how excited she is.
It must have been an amazing time to be in the music scene. Can you imagine all these different stars and singers meeting each other? Well, Studio 54 was the perfect place to make that all happen. Thank goodness for that!
Bianca Jagger and Her Wild Horse
Mick wasn’t the only Jagger to love wild horses! Back in the days before Healthy and Safety took the fun out of most things, we can see Bianca Jagger riding her white horse into the doors of Studio 54.
When you’re the wife of a Rolling Stone, there aren’t many people to tell you ‘no’. Can you imagine this kind of thing happening in nightclubs today? Nowadays, you’re not even allowed to have a cigarette indoors!
If the walls could talk, what do you think they would say? Well, no walls have probably seen more than the ones inside Studio 54. Well, walls can’t talk but humans can! Here we can see Paloma Picasso whispering into the ear of Debbie Harry.
What do you think she’s saying? It has to be something fascinating: look how Harry is intrigued as Picasso is sheepishly smiling. Gosh, we can only imagine some of the stories that took place in that New York nightclub!
Moves Like Jagger
The Jaggers were bonafide Royalty in the 1970s. Even though the marriage didn’t last, these two were huge during their marriage until 1978. Here, we can see the power couple walking in through the main doors ready for the night to begin!
Just look at how Mick is looking at Bianca – that’s true love in those eyes! Sadly, these two would divorce in 1978. Still, we can’t help but admire them now – they really were the iconic couple of the decade!
Bonding Over Laughs
It wasn’t all nightclub dancing in the walls of Studio 54. Sometimes, the best moments were shared simply sitting on the sofa and catching up with friends. This photo of Brooke Shields and Mariel Hemingway is a great example of that!
These two are clearly just enjoying each other’s company as they catch up. Let’s hope it’s only water in that cup – these girls were only 12 years old! Gosh, how times have changed. Can you imagine girls that young going to nightclubs today?
Saturday Night Fever
Saturday’s alright for dancing if you’ve got the fever. Well, if you’re John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone, then that’s exactly what you’ve got! Can you believe these two went out together to Studio 54? Imagine the hearts they collected along the way…
These two were fresh off their success in Rocky and Saturday Night Fever. So, you can just think of all the fun they must have had. We wonder if he went on the dancefloor or used the night off to relax?
You might have heard her sing about 9-5, but for Dolly Parton she did it from night to day! Here’s the country star feeling right at home with this massive horse placed in the middle of the nightclub. Is it the same horse belonging to Bianca Jagger? Who knows…
Again, we love how the 1970s allowed people just to bring in large animals to a club because they felt like it. Would you like to see this horse in the club with you?
Letting Loose With Diana Ross
When you’re a Supreme, you’re going to want to have fun every now and then. For Diana Ross, this is clearly the case. Here she is on one of the club’s last nights in 1979. Before the doors closed one last time, they decided to host one big party.
As well as Ross, the evening was full of other celebrities, including Liza Minnelli. Everyone was having a good time until the early hours of the next morning.
So far, we’ve seen some vintage photos of the celebs who would visit Studio 54 frequently. But what were they visiting? It’s time to explore some of the types of events and occasions that were being held at New York’s most exclusive club.
As we can see, it was full of crazy times! Here’s a photo of the club’s basement – full to the brim with buckets full of champagne. According to Rolling Stone (the magazine), they stored plenty of rugs and props down there…
Home Of Birthdays
As well as normal club nights, Studio 54 was also used as a venue for special events. Well, if you were someone big on the celebrity scene then you definitely took the chance to have your birthday there. Just look at Elizabeth Taylor!
Here she is celebrating her 46th birthday at the nightclub. All the women are dressed like her with bows in their hair, styled just like her. We would have loved to be there with them all!
Boys Will Be Boys
Oh, boy – here comes trouble! While hundreds of people waited outside the doors of Studio 54 each night, there were three men who could walk in anytime. Let’s take a look at these troublemakers, shall we?
First up is Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, followed by soul sensation James Brown. Who’s the funnyman next to them? Well, that’s only John Belushi! These three are naturally some of the most iconic stars of the decade. May the fun begin!
Penny For Your Thoughts
Aside from all the fun and games, Studio 54 was also used as a place to ponder your thoughts. Just look at Robin Williams: he’s taking a break from making people laugh to look around. And who is that he’s sitting with? Only acclaimed artist Andy Warhol!
Warhol is chatting with Valerie Valardi, Williams’ first wife. Just imagine what they are talking about! Sadly, the world said goodbye to Robin Williams in 2014 and the world of comedy was never the same.
Make Room For Cher
Many celebrities would come and go through its doors over the years. Think back over the last 40 years: any ‘older’ celebrity was likely there. Take this classic photo, for example. Cher is seen enjoying the swinging ‘70s at Studio 54 like a true diva!
Located on 54th Street, between 8th Ave and Broadway, the nightclub was in the perfect spot for celebs and stars to visit late at night. Better yet? Folks like Cher could enjoy a night without screaming fans or paparazzi.
Wearing Sunglasses At Night
Just look at Richard Gere over here! We can see him rocking up to Studio 54 wearing his sunglasses at night. Because who still believes in fashion and everyday convenience? Not here, that’s who!
Richard Gere captured our hearts way before Pretty Woman. As we can see from here, he’s been rocking the stylish look since the late ‘70s. Amazingly, he’s still as charming as ever 40 years later. What was your favorite role from the silver-headed fox?
When you have some of the best celebrities in the world come to you, you can afford to put on a few good shows! Just look at Studio 54 here: Liza Minnelli and Bianca Jagger sharing the stage for one of the most amazing duets ever!
We would love to have been there for this iconic performance between the two of them. What do you think they sang? We can only imagine just how much fun they had at this nightclub every night of the week!
Move over, Biana Jagger! Here is Mick with his new beau, Jerry Hall. The 1970s were a crazy time for most of us, especially those in the era of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Well, for Jagger and Hall, partying is just another day of the week.
Is that an engagement ring we see on her finger? She and Mick Jagger were together from 1977 all the way to 1999 – making it 22 years before they split. Today, she is married to Rupert Murdoch.
Make Doves Cry
We know how amazing Bianca Jagger can be – with or without Mick by her side. Despite a turbulent personal life, she always shone at Studio 54 as a glamorous addition to any event she joined.
Here she is making doves cry as part of her costume to enter. Since so many people tried to get into the club each night, patrons had to wear outlandish clothes to make sure they caught the attention of the bouncers. We don’t think Jagger had a problem, though!
Robin Williams definitely knew how to party – just ask anyone who knew him. Here he is with his first wife, Valerie Velardi. These two lovebirds were together for a decade from 1978-1988. It was during this period that they would share a son, Zachery.
Even though the marriage didn’t last, Williams and Velardi spent many happy times in Studio 54 – as we can see here. The best thing a man can do for a woman is to make her laugh – we’re sure Robin had no problem doing that!
Sideburns To The Floor
Elton John doesn’t mess around. Just look at those sideburns! Here he is next to Alana Hamilton and her future husband, singer Rod Stewart. Do you think these folks had fun together singing and dancing all night long?
We almost didn’t recognize the Your Song singer without his signature glasses and colorful frocks. He must have just finished a show and wanted to slip into something a bit more comfortable. Do you like this dressed-down look?
Open To The Public
Of course, this list is made interesting by all of the celebrities who used to walk through the doors of Studio 54. However, there are some amazing photos that show the everyday folks like you and me. Here’s a stunning example of some of the other things that went on at the famous nightclub.
Here, we can see a performance of ‘Suite Otis’ in 1979. The group is called the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and they used to take New York City by storm each night.
Every Night Was Saturday!
Look at this picture. Do you think it was taken on a weekend? Or maybe a Tuesday? At Studio 54, it was almost impossible to know what time or what day it was: the partying just merged into each other from one day to the next.
Here’s a great example of how each night ended for those who boogied on the dance floor all night long. Balloons would fall from the sky: do you think it was someone’s birthday?
Oh, Sylvester you sly dog, you! We saw him earlier with John Travolta, but here he is settling down with Joyce Ingalls. Ingalls co-starred with Stallone in Paradise City, as well as appearing in The Man Who Would Not Die.
This was around the time when Stallone was finally getting world-renowned fame with his work on the iconic Rocky. After such a whirlwind of an experience, he deserves to have a break at the club to relax!
A Quick Costume Change
Classic Elton – always seeking a quick costume change! Judging by the photo below, it looks like he was suddenly called on stage for an impromptu performance. Well, knowing Elton John, it can’t be done in normal clothes!
This picture catches him in the act as he changes from normal clothes to his regular flamboyant outfits. We can even see the classic wings on the side of his hat. We guess it’s true what they say: Saturday IS alright for dancing.
Partying Doesn’t Have An Expiration Date
You’re as young as you feel – just ask Disco Sally! Sally Lipman spent her whole life off the dancefloor at the request of her husband. When he quickly and sadly died, Sally decided to take a trip to Studio 54 to see what all the fuss was about.
Well, she wasn’t disappointed! We can see how she’s catching up on all her lost experiences with this lucky fella. We would love to know what they’re both thinking at this moment!
The Fun Became A Risk
As we can clearly see, Studio 54 was a wild party that went on for days, weeks, and months in 1977 and 1978. Celebrities and rich folks would spend some of the best years of their lives there. But was it destined to continue?
As time went on, the IRS approached the nightclub and suddenly the club owners were faced with more problems than they would have liked. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were running the show at the time, and described it as “one of the worst days of my life.” What happened?
Not Their First Rodeo
When these two first opened the club doors in 1977, they could never have imagined just how successful it would become. Rubell and Schrager bought the former CBS studio and were hard at work decorating it to look as grand as possible.
They were only missing one thing: a liquor license. Of course, most people are going to want some alcohol when they enter a club. Having forgotten to apply for the license, they had to think quick.
One-Day Catering Permits
To quickly solve the issue on how to supply alcohol to the guests, they decided to purchase catering permits as a way to stock up on liquor. Their company was called ‘Broadway Catering Corp” and they quickly started receiving alcohol orders just like normal.
Not everyone was so happy with this new company. Before long, the Liquor State Authorities became suspicious of the two owners. Why would a nightclub need so many catering permits? Well, the night the police came to the club marked the beginning of its end.
Party For The IRS
While most people were partying with alcohol, the IRS was partying because of it! Rubell and Schrager were swiftly arrested for selling alcohol without the proper licensing and Studio 54 was shut down in 1979.
They quickly sought legal counsel from Roy Cohn – a notorious lawyer in the New York community. He got them off Scott free which allowed them to start new ventures. While they may have forgotten about the IRS, the IRS didn’t forget about them…
Disco Died With Studio 54
Finally, 24 IRS agents seized the club and took ownership of all the paperwork relating to licensing. At last, the IRS had what they needed to shut it down indefinitely. And guess what? They finally saw what was inside that vault: drugs and undeclared cash. That’s enough for the feds…
When the famous night club closed its doors, many suggest that it marks the end of Disco and the decade. The club owners eventually were sent to prison for fraud. And so, the end of Disco came with the end of Studio 54.
Bowing Down To Bowie
Even some of the biggest stars in the world were rejected from the doors of Studio 54. Can you imagine being David Bowie in the 1970s and being denied entry to a nightclub? Well, there was one night when that actually happened!
Here’s the snap caught just as the mistake was being rectified. Thankfully, he appears to be in good spirits about the whole thing and is laughing it off. We bet the bouncer was embarrassed by his mistake.