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This is why everyone is talking about Studio 54

Jasmine Andersson June 14, 2018
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1st November 1978: Margaret Trudeau, former first-lady of Canada, now an aspiring actress, enjoys a dance at New York's famous Studio 54 discotheque, with her latest boyfriend, millionaire Bruce Nevins. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Have you heard a lot of chat about Studio 54 lately?

That might be down to the fact a new documentary about the success of the club famed for being the cornerstone of disco will be released in cinemas very shortly.

For those not in the know, Studio 54 opened its doors in 1977 and became the cornerstone of New York’s disco scene – and it’s influence translated on a global scale.

1979: A drag queen queuing outside the Studio 54 disco in New York City. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

The club was famed for its inclusivity.

The doormen were briefed that on any given night, at least 20 percent of the crowd on any given night should be gay men, and 10 percent lesbians and trans people.

So the unequal LGBT+ stats may not be perfect, but they were revelatory for the time, explains the Studio 54 documentary maker Matt Tyrnauer.

373381 01: MGM Grand. KD Lang and Leisha Hailey at the opening of “Studio 54” in Las Vegas, NV, February 15, 1998. (Photo by Brenda Chase Online USA, Inc.)

“The characters who were the real inhabitants of the club – a very eccentric, very gay, sometimes transgender crowd – represent the kind of Manhattan that vanished,” creator of the eponymously titled documentary Matt Tyrnauer told Vogue.

A full splendour of celebrity guests – including Diana Ross, Andy Warhol and Cher attended the club.

1st February 1979: Pop artist Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987, right) stands next to a man wearing a jockstrap at New York’s Studio 54 disco. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Although the club was known for its diverse identities and star-studded guestlist, its life drew to a close when its owners were arrested for tax evasion.

The club managed to carry on in spite of the huge setback, but when co-owner Steve Rubell contracted HIV, its doors were soon closed.

February 1979: A man in costume with a mirror mask at New York’s Studio 54 disco. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

He died of AIDS in 1989.

The first cases of HIV and AIDS were reported the same year Studio 54 closed, and tragically, many of the club’s regular guests passed away. Steve Rubell also contracted the disease, and died from complications related to AIDS in 1989 at just 45.

“In part cause of the HIV/AIDS crisis but also because of the way New York progressed from being a down at the heels bedlam city to being a wealthy, polished and cleaned up place. What I hope the film does, is show you that world. It’s a hard thing to cope with, but it nothing lasts forever,” Tyrnauer added.

Studio 54 will arrive in UK cinemas on June 15.

Related topics: Andy Warhol, Disco, Queer, Studio 54, US

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