I have this mythologized view of New York that I have created entirely from the city’s nightclub scene between 1973 and 1987. The Loft, the Gallery, the Paradise Garage and the Roxy sit at the center of this utopia, with the music in these venues acting as the heartbeat of the city. Notice I didn’t mention Studio 54, because in my romanticized utopia the superficiality and exclusivity that Studio 54 represented had no place there. Neither did the rampant crime, arson, poor economy or crooked government shenanigans…
Last year I spent quite a bit of time writing about about disco, house and the iconic clubs that became havens to the disenfranchised who fought to simply be their beautiful selves. Supernova was my look back at a time I wished I had experienced first hand.
The Roxy was a popular roller skating rink that doubled as a gay nightclub on weekends, attracting DJs, hip hop battles and legendary performances. The club shut down in 2007 and between 2012-2013 the Hauser & Wirth gallery took over the space and overhauled it. Apparently the abandoned space was preserved like a time capsule, with leftover roller skates still in the venue when the gallery took over. Hauser & Wirth sent some of the discarded rollerskates to artist Mark Bradford in L.A. who used them to create a video installation called Deimos, an ode to a long-lost time that paid tribute to the new space during his solo exhibition in 2015. Listening to a slow pitched rendition of Sylvester’s Grateful with horns playing over roller skate wheels slowly thrown in frame, the video screams “party’s over” with the wheels resembling spent club kids stumbling into the early morning light after a very, very long night. The piece is also a somber reminder of the devastating ravages of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
As Deimos showed, all good things must come to an end; the Hauser & Wirth gallery space held its farewell party Thursday night (the building will reportedly be converted into condos) and with that, the slow erasure of a pop culture relic is complete. Deimos by Mark Bradford was one piece that I wanted to feature in my Supernova digital exhibition last year because Sylvester’s somber crooning in this slowed down version (dare I say it: I like this darker slower pitched version more than the original) sums up the feeling of longing for a distant, unattainable past that’s now defined in fond memory through the music, and magical set lists created by the greats including David Mancuso, Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles and Nicky Siano.