IMHO the mid 1970’s to the mid 1980’s were the best years for mega-night-clubbing in the modern sense of the word. Perhaps I was just at the impressionable right (young) age, or perhaps there was still a desire among club owners to seek to provide some sort of sensual atmosphere in collaboration with real artists and/or space designers. Think New York’s Area, Limelight, Danceteria, and Paradise Garage before it all went corporate, cold, and impersonal, not to mention the changes brought about by new generations of designer drugs.
Having been immersed in nightclub culture since a very early age, I almost never had to stand in line to go anywhere, and that allowed me to truly club hop all night long, often starting with what we called a disco nap, then around midnight meeting friends at someone’s house for a kickstarter cocktail or whatever substance was at hand or planned; and then ‘featuring’ two, three, and often even four spots a night. It was almost always de rigueur to follow the festivities with a breakfast among truck drivers and freaks at Dave’s Diner on the corner of Broadway and Canal; New Wave boys and Rockabillies at the Empire Diner in Chelsea; or downtown hipsters and somnambulists at the Odeon where you could hobnob with the “Celebutantes” of the era. Or rather they could hobnob with you. All these establishments were open 24/7 when the city truly never slept.
In 1996, even though I was still clubbing, albeit not to the same degree as a decade or two before, I never skipped an opportunity to ‘go out’ not so much to revel, but to photograph.
During this one night in Paris, I was in the company of friends who themselves were well known night club owners which meant we pretty much had a free pass to any spot in town. I am pretty certain that we hit what was considered the biggies of that time.
After waiting on Beatrice and Corinne at her apartment in Le Marais for a couple of hours of mode and maquillage, we headed to dinner at Chez Omar, then to Les Bains Douches for an after dinner cocktail and warm-up, followed by a drive across town to Queen where we met up with Eric, Raphael and a few others. Not far from there near L’Etoile, we joined Jörg and Céline, and yet more friends at Cabaret, an establishment from the Belle Epoque which was by ‘now’ a hotbed of fashionistas, Parisian or otherwise. The champagne flowed sans cesse, until everyone was finally ready for some serious dancing at the now defunct giant Palace. A prior era Disco institution, Palace had become the place for the latest in Techno music and fashion.
It is not my intention to “glamourize” these adventures, despite the fact that in Paris, everything seems to demand glamour. And although I no longer have the taste, nor perhaps the stamina for such glamour and for such all-nighter Nuits Blanches, I haven’t quite given up on these nocturnal escapades, either as a DJ or a photographer, or both. As my archive has grown significantly in the years since, I hope to publish several more books on various aspects of the party life, in clubs as well as in private spaces.
In this book, I am featuring photographs I had taken in the course of one night, using a Contax T2 camera, and Kodak Ektachrome Lumiere Film.
I had crudely attached very small filter gels of a different color each on the lens and on the flash, which I used for every shot. The film was processed in C-41 chemistry, yielding a negative image, not a color reversal image for which the film was designed. The result was a high contrast image with a shift in the relationship between colors. Finally, I scanned the negatives using a Kodak Photo CD Scanner. As there were no profiles for cross-processed films, the scanner yielded images with strong saturated colors and psychedelic effects. Even though years later I did eventually scan the same negatives on a new generation desktop scanner with more conventional photographic results, I decided to use the original scans for this book.
Finally, with the use of some custom Photoshop algorithms, I was able to visualize the events with greater accuracy.
Written in Tribeca, NYC on April 24, 2011.