Inside Studio 54: Captivating Moments from an Iconic Era

May 11, 2024

Liza Minnelli shuts down the dance floor

A glimpse behind the curtain of history can tell us so much about the stars and celebrities that we think we know so much about. Seeing photos of the events as they unfolded, colorized just for you, shows just how decadent the most famous club in the world really was.

Studio 54 was the one club where the famous and the infamous mixed with reckless abandon, with lines of would-be dancers begging to be let inside. What happened behind the walls of this storied New York City club? How late did the parties go, and exactly what did stars like Mick Jagger, Jamie Lee Curtis, and a very young Drew Barrymore get up to at these all-night ragers?

source: reddit

Liza Minelli was such a constant presence at Studio 54 that even when the first iteration of the club was going downhill she was seen as an integral part of the nightly operation. In 1978, the IRS brought the hammer down on the club's original owners and found that they were skimming 80% of the profits. Obviously, the club's owners went to jail.

The night before their sentences began the two owners threw the biggest going away party that New York had ever seen. People partied like there was no tomorrow. As a send off, Diana Ross and Liza Minnelli serenaded the crowd with song after song as if Rome were burning.

Hugh Hefner and one of his bunnies survey the dance floor

source: reddit

Hugh Hefner was a man about town long before Studio 54 became the must-see nightspot in New York City. At the time he was running his magazine and its branded clubs, but they weren't really a place where someone would go and dance. Hefner traveled to Studio 54 for a change a pace, he wanted to know what young people were doing.

Bill Farley, the former publicist for Hef's magazine wondered out loud about the difference between Hefner's world and Studio 54 to Vanity Fair:

I wonder if the entertainment model hadn’t changed a little because—taking Studio 54 as an example—people had moved on to loud dance clubs, a lot of coke was going around, and that kind of stuff wasn’t happening at the our clubs. Dancing was part of what you could do there, but they weren’t dance clubs primarily.