Anyone who experienced New York as a twenty-something in the ’80s will tell you this: If you think what you’re experiencing in your day-to-day life is real New York, you should go to the bathroom, snort some more cocaine, and keep waiting for New York to happen to you. It won’t, because the days when people would be too afraid to carry more than $20 in their pocket are over.
Open between 1983 and 1987 in a lofty Tribeca space, AREA is among the nightclubs that best represent that era of New York decadence. Known for its wildly curated parties, the club was notorious for its installations and performance art experiences, and was a haven where creatives could bounce ideas off each other while being surrounded by a stuffed rhinoceros by the bathroom, a handcrafted robot spitting fire, or Andy Warhol doing his thing.
On Tuesday night, in honor of the club’s 30th anniversary, Eric Goode and his team took their old crew and a bunch of us NYC newbies down memory lane. Downtown gallery The Hole was transformed into a pop-up AREA, complete with art performances throughout the first two days. Other parts of the gallery space bore the mostly never-seen-before Francesco Clemente, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol pieces made for the club at the time. Zombie Boy peeked through a hole in the wall, looking rightfully uncomfortable at the end of a three-hour performance. There were naked performers wearing only Barbiesque masks and kitten heels on the dance floor surrounded by Warhol’s signature aluminum foil. Absolut re-branded household products from the late 70s and people (I) had a pretty hard time trying not to take some samples home. Nicholas Cage was said to be around but stayed uncaptured. Patrick McMullan, Wolfgang Wesener, Ari Marcopoulos, Volker Hinz and Dustin Pittman happily snapped photos of friends throughout the night. Those who stayed for the after party saw The Bowery in one of its most purposefully disheveled nights — as in, coffee tables embellished with mock-cocaine and ecstasy, lit with bright colored lights and scene to pillow fights. In a corner, two elderly men contemplated going to the bathroom together to reminiscence about the good old days. And for many, there were just that.
All photos courtesy of Patrick McMullan.
AREA: The Exhibition is on view at The Hole through November 10.
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