'70s Disco Clubs in NYC

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'70s Disco Clubs in NYC
The '70s disco clubs were popular New York hot spots. (Robert Houser/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

During the 1970s, the disco dancing movement caused a proliferation of nightclubs in New York City, and they quickly became some of Manhattan's most frequently visited attractions. Manhattan disco clubs during the '70s included chic establishments, such as Studio 54 and Copacabana, and clubs on the fringe, such as Paradise Garage. Most of the discos of the 1970s closed in the 1980s, and are "Stayin' Alive" in memory only.

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Studio 54

Located on West 54th Street, Studio 54 opened its doors in 1977, quickly becoming one of the most notable disco nightclubs in Manhattan. The club was notorious for its elitism, by allowing mainly celebrities and public figures inside. Celebs who were regulars at the club were Liza Minnelli, Cher and Michael Jackson.

The club enjoyed a period of success until 1979, when its owners, Steven Rubell and Ian Schrager, were arrested on fraud charges. Currently, the space that hosted Studio 54 is now occupied by the Roundabout Theater Company, which produces Broadway musicals and plays. The motion picture, "54" was based on the rise and fall of Studio 54 during the 1970s.


"Music and passion were always the fashion" is what Barry Manilow sang to describe the Copacabana Club of the 1970s. The nightclub originally opened in the 1940s and was famous for the comedy and music acts that performed there, including Martin & Lewis and Sammy Davis Jr.

During the '70s, the Copacabana became a disco club. It remained this way until 2000, when the club moved from its original location on 60th Street to 34th Street, where the club now primarily plays salsa and Latino music. As of fall 2010, the status of the Copacabana is in limbo due to new infrastructure demands by the city's subway transit system.


Night owls from all of New York's borough's recognised the clown logo of the Funhouse discotheque, which operated on Manhattan's 26th Street from 1979 to 1985. The 28,000-square-foot club was known for its DJ booth, which was situated in the mouth of a large clownface structure, and its resident DJ, John "Jellybean" Benitez, who was the club's resident DJ from 1981 to 1984.

The club also featured an arcade room and second-level balcony that overlooked the dance floor. The arcade machines, which were a new invention at the time, encouraged minors to sneak into the club, even though the official age limit was 18.

Paradise Garage

The Paradise Garage operated from 1976 to 1987, and was one of the first openly gay nightclubs in New York City. The location of the club was on King Street in the Hudson Square neighbourhood of Manhattan. Although the club was officially a gay club, the Paradise Garage drew people from all walks of life into its dance hall.

The name of the club derived from the building it occupied, which was a converted garage. Also, the genre of disco music played at Paradise Garage was referred to as "garage" music, which resembled modern-day house music. Famous artists who performed at the Paradise Club during the 1970s and '80s include Madonna, Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan and Luther Vandross.

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