Area 1983 - 1987. A look back at Area, the ’80s club that turned partying into an art.
"It was more important that we make our mark than make it rich," says Eric Goode, one of the four founders of the legendary nightclub Area, which was only open from 1983 to 1987, but managed to be more influential and memorable than Studio 54. And those memories — of over-the-top art installations, decadent after-hours antics and the famous and fabulous — are all collected by Eric and his sister Jennifer, Area’s art director, in the thick, oversize tome Area, published this month by Abrams.
Every six weeks or so, Area (which Goode started with his brother Christopher and childhood friends Shawn Hausman and Darius Azari) completely transformed itself. Themes like “Religion,” “Elements,” “Confinement,” “Sex,” “Future,” “Fashion,” “Art” and “Suburbia” went way beyond even the craziest of Halloween party décor, reimagining the 33,000 square foot space into a 3D multisensory mind trip. For the “Food” motif, Area’s pool became a giant bowl of alphabet soup. “Gnarly” had a skate ramp with skateboarders gliding by the dance floor. “Religion” included a 10-foot burning cross and a confessional booth complete with a “priest.”
If you were lucky enough to get plucked from the manic and overdressed crowd flooding the club’s entrance on Hudson Street, the first thing you saw once inside was a hall of dioramas showcasing Area’s house performers in costumes. It was like the American Museum of Freaked-out History. Gender-bender Bernard-Zette would be posed in the lounge on any given night as Jesus Christ, Jim Jones, St. Sebastian, Brooke Shields, Anne Frank or Jane Jetson, to name a few. Inside the club, there was an enormous aquarium with live sharks, and a coed bathroom that soon became a VIP room without a velvet rope or guest list.
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