Friends and Disco dilute the Studio 54 experience

Disco will be resurrected on Saturday, May 14 at a Friends and Disco event called The Discover at Universe art collective. Friends and Disco describes the event, which will showcase local DJs, as an “inclusive Studio 54 experience,” a surprising description considering Studio 54 was not inclusive. Instead, the club was famous for its hyper-aggressive door policy, where people were turned away if they weren’t rich, famous, or fashionable. The politics were so intense that Andy Warhol once described it as a “dictatorship.”

Jack Nicholson, Mick Jagger, Cher and Warhol were among the regulars there, guzzling cocaine and generally doing whatever they pleased. It was so excessive that on some nights, the club’s owners, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, spent $100,000 on decorations alone. When the IRS finally raided the place, they found hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of drugs and cash stashed in a hidden room. Both Rubell and Schrager were eventually sentenced to years in federal prison for tax evasion. To this day, Studio 54 is synonymous with excess and hedonism.

However, despite its exclusivity, Studio 54 was also known as a haven for marginalized cultures. The founders modeled their clubs after gay and black venues when they noticed how those spaces were revolutionizing dance parties. This model meant that the gay, Latino, and black communities thrived at Studio 54, mixing with the often white, heterosexual pseudo-aristocracy that also graced its dance floors. Rubell himself was gay, as were many of his staff.

western word spoke with Friends and Disco founders Rachel Silva and Jason Rosove to see what the hell they mean by creating an event they see as an “inclusive Studio 54 experience,” as well as their perspective on music history. record and what it meant to the people. during the time it flourished.

western word: What sparked your passion for disco music?

Silva: I first discovered proper house music at a festival in 2015 called Woogie Weekend. The sounds of disco were absolutely prominent in the music they played throughout the weekend, although I didn’t even really know that at the time. What I did know was that they all shared a connection I had never experienced before and a sense of true freedom from music and dance, which was groundbreaking for me at eighteen.

How broad is the term “disco”, in your opinion?

Rosov: Very spacious! At our shows, we play more than disco house. We play minimal house from Chicago and some new waves coming from Amsterdam and Europe. The term “disco” has become a statement rather than just a genre. We feel that it means a social gathering or a basic term that brings people together through love. We want to advance the term “disco” from a genre to an understanding of love and culture. Music is a universal language.

What kind of community do you hope this creates in the city? Where do you hope to end up?

Rosov: The community we are building is seen as a large expanding group of friends. We want to create positivity and togetherness not only through the music we play, but also by being present and engaged throughout the creative process of hosting events. Our goal is to end up in multiple places: big cities with music culture, like New York, Los Angeles, and of course Denver. We hope to finish with all the people who have believed in us from the first day with a nightclub, or better still a disco, that takes care of a special energy on the dance floor.

Why do you think people yearn for a genre that is fifty years old? Do you think there is a modern equivalent that represents the disco spirit?

Silva: There is a nostalgic part to it. People love the style, the clothes and the music because it takes them back to this glorious era where house music started. It’s a way out that you can only get dancing to the unique music of four on the floor. A modern equivalent is hard to say. Actually, we can’t just point to a current genre and say it’s disco without acknowledging the generations of minority counterculture that have gotten us to where we are now in music and art as a whole.

You say you want Friends and Disco to be Studio 54 and then you talk about how you want it to be inclusive. But Studio 54 was exclusively for celebrities, artists or people who could bring some kind of value to the club, and its strict door policy was the stuff of legends. How do you square the two?

Rosov: We want to reinvent Studio 54. We want to take its iconic and glamorous parts and make them accessible to all humans. We want to bring back the power of creativity behind it, which is what eventually led to the infamous exclusivity of it. With our own creativity, passion and open mind, we know we can do just that.

In a way, didn’t Studio 54 destroy the essence of disco music by taking it out of the hands of its creators and marketing it to the rich?

Silva: More than one statement, but the answer is yes. Studio 54 was ahead of our time and we can’t change the past; we can only let it teach us. What we can do now, and what we strive to do by using our brand as a platform, is help raise awareness of the origins of where disco and house music came from in the black community.

Disco is well known for its aesthetics. How does Friends and Disco select an aesthetic?

Silva: Our main focus for our events is to do just that: create a vibrant atmosphere and aesthetic in unlikely spaces. A great example of this was at our last event in Denver, [which] we celebrate at Infinite Monkey Theorem in RiNo in their backyard wine barrel warehouse. We moved old sofas, brought in houseplants, added a pink neon sign, and of course disco balls to create a warm yet exciting place to relax.

You all know the Disco Demolition Night of the ’70s. If each of you picked a disco record to record on this July night in Chicago, which record would you burn and why?

Silva: The Disco Demolition has been seen as a racist, homophobic and deranged riot and is claimed to be “the day disco died”. for a 98-cent ticket to the game were black artists, and some weren’t even fully categorized into the disco genre. Because of this, we only feel right in answering this question with a more light-hearted and sarcastic answer: We would have brought a couple of rockers. albums to record.

Friends and Disco premieres The Discoverse on Saturday, May 14 on Universe, 1869 South Broadway, at 8 pm Tickets are $30-$35.

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