Boasting nine libraries with five million volumes and some 7,400 daily visitors, New York University's austere Elmer Holmes Bobst Library building is also now home, of all things, to a 1980s-style rec room, located on its third floor. Furnishings include a cheap-looking home bar set, an assortment of mismatched couches and coffee tables, complete with porcelain bowls of caramels and hard candies, and a number of hulking cathode ray tube televisions. Those relics in the age of flat panel displays will play hours upon hours of musical performances by such New York downtown scene stalwarts as the Lounge Lizards, DNA and James Chance and the Contortions, mixed in with early video art, found footage and B-movie trailer reels.
Titled the GoNightclubbing Video Lounge, the installation (through May 31) is a re-creation of the original Danceteria Video Lounge, located in the eponymous nightclub, which was famed for its confluence of punk rock musicians and downtown artists and writers in the late '70s and early '80s. Danceteria was frequented by (and often employed) New York luminaries of the time including Keith Haring, Zoe Leonard and David Wojnarowicz.
The lounge installation is the result of NYU's purchase of the GoNightclubbing Archive from video artists and Danceteria Video Lounge founders Emily Armstrong and Pat Ivers for the Fales Library's Downtown Collection. Drawing from Armstrong and Ivers's work at Danceteria as well as their weekly cable TV show Nightclubbing, the archive includes video of some 115 musical performances, interviews with artists and musicians, posters, flyers and various other ephemera.
For Marvin Taylor, director of the Fales Library and Special Collections, the GoNightclubbing Video Lounge offers the unique opportunity to present what he describes as "embodied archival practice. It's one thing to take all of this material," he told A.i.A. at the lounge, "digitize it, and show it as an archive. If you're just watching all of this crazy footage in a bare reading room, what gets stripped out of that is the larger physical experience. This was an attempt to put the body back into the archive by trying to restore the original context."
Armstrong and Ivers selected eight stills from videos included in the GoNightclubbing Video Lounge, discussing performances presented and the importance of the various figures to the downtown scene.
Keith Haring's piece was part of the "Times Square Show," up on the Jumbotron on 42nd Street. Keith was also one of our busboys, and his art hung in our Video DJ booth. He had just started branching out from his subway NY Post headline mashup period to the radiant baby.
John Lurie from a performance with the Lounge Lizards at CBGBs, one of their only shows there in 1978. The original band with Arto Lindsay, Anton Fier, Evan Lurie and Steve Piccolo. A living film noir moment.
Divine and Stiv Bators
Divine and Dead Boys's Stiv Bators at 3 A.M. at CBGBs with the Neon Women.
Teen Etiquette: Rockabilly Romance
John Sex in Teen Etiquette: Rockabilly Romance, another Ivers/Armstrong/Schanzenbach collaboration. It is hard to overstate what a small scene it was and how wonderfully collaborative. No money, no problems.
Three Teens Kill 4
Tima Surmelioglu took this. Three Teens Kill 4 was a band that was initially formed by our busboys, David Wojnarowicz, Jesse Hultberg and Brian Butterick. They worked so hard at the club and were such sweethearts. And they were always creating. Always.
John Cale, in performance. He arrived for this show in 1979 fresh from a trip to the hospital with a broken leg. You can see the blood still seeping from his nose. He never stopped.
Zoe Leonard was the coat check girl at Danceteria, usually working in the basement. She literally never went anywhere without her camera. Another amazing artist who emerged from our staff.
Girl Porn: Boys Backs.
A video we made with Robin Schanzenbach that was an ode to male flesh. All the Danceteria staff boys were in it. This back belonged to Brian Butterick (aka Hattie Hatfield).