Irreplaceable. Unrepeatable. Unapologetic. These adjectives come to mind when describing the intangible qualities of the infamous Area nightclub which reigned during the 80’s. Area was a themed nightclub that ran from 1983 to 1987 at 157 Hudson Street in Manhattan, New York City.
Call it the ‘golden era’ or the rowdy 80s, Area nightclub was a melting pot for bright, talented, creative and outspoken individuals to party and socialize.
The founder and brainchild of Area nightclub were four young upstarts – Eric Goode, Shawn Hausman, Christopher Goode, and Darius Azari. Their entrepreneurial and creative spirit sought to turn partying into an art form. According to Eric Goode,
“It was more important that we make our mark than make it rich.”
Surface level, one would reminisce the decadent, ostentatious and extravagant themed parties. A cultural and artistic feast for the eyes. On a deeper level, there was so much more at play with Area’s artistic vision. Area nightclub offered society something completely unique. A cultural hub for networking and partying. Area was adamant about parading and celebrating a sense of individuality where famous celebrities, writers and artists were all integrated with partygoers under one roof. Partying. These days, you would seldom see a punter casually hitting the dance floor with say Madonna or share an articulate conversation with Andy Warhol. Let alone bump into JFK Jr. lining up outside the hallowed club. Luminaries and artists collaborating and dancing. A cultural utopia.
A turnover of six weeks, the explosive and vibrant Area nightclub on 157 Hudson Street was transformed to various different themes. A tight-knit creative team of 30 artists worked from dusk till dawn shapeshifting the iconic venue to various themes, like a movie set. Every six to eight weeks, the Club would undergo a remodeling and relaunch, each time unveiling a bizarre and obscure theme. From “Suburbia,” to “Carnival,” to “Confinement,” to “Future,” you name it, New York’s Manhattan Area was bustling with life!
The club’s themes captured the wildest imaginations. Elaborate invites were as eclectic as mailing a blue pill that revealed the details of the party when dissolved in water. It transformed parties into art. The equivalent of imagineers, but for party-goers.
According to PaperMag in their tribute to Area, demand for the club was never an issue:
“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.”
A typical night out at Area would include roll-call: Warhol, Grace Jones, Madonna, JFK Jr, Prince, Bianca Jagger, Billy Idol, Sting, Federico Fellini, and Cher just to name a few. Overwhelmed? Let’s pray and take a moment for the non-famous punters. You would have only one option for a situation like this – play it cool. FOMO kicking in yet?
A notable installation at one of the party’s was Warhol’s “Invisible Sculpture” installation, a classic Warhol move. Always pushing the envelope of societal expectations and conventions.
Paul G Roberts, Founder of Fashion Industry Broadcast, recollects his experiences and views on the renowned venue:
“I lived in Manhattan in the late 80’s, I was fortunate enough to have scored a plush International Brand Management Traineeship with the world’s biggest brand conglomerate.. It was an amazing opportunity and I felt blessed. But as amazing as the career opportunity was, it was Manhattan in the dizzying days of ‘the Wolf or Walls St’ and when ‘Greed was Good’. It was also the time that NYC was undoubtedly the Nightlife capital of the world. And as a single Ex Pat wide eyed and bushy tailed I wanted to throw myself into the middle of it and experience it all. I even featured in a full page in the New York Times Style Section:”
Area was the hottest ticket in town and it was also the hardest club in town to get into. Money didn’t get you in, membership didn’t get you in, and there wasn’t even a line. You just stood in the heaving throng outside and if you were luck enough the doorman would point at you and the Security would find you and make a path for you to enter.”
“Inside you would find the most extraordinary concentration of world famous people. It was almost like everyone was world famous. And then there were people like me. Within a 10 meter radius near the bar there would be Andy Warhol talking about his new art installation “Invisible Sculpture”, next to Graffiti artist Keith Haring, Billy Idol, Madonna, Bianca Jagger. Everyone who was anyone at the time was there, and they were all knee deep in mischief. There will never be another club to rival Area. It was a blast,” said Roberts.
What a legendary nightclub and piece of cultural history. Like the saying all good things must come to an end, I beg to differ. The club’s intangible legacy continues to live on through cultural history and serves as a framework for future imagineers and party revellers. It proves that with positive creativity, collaboration, socialisation and the absence of restrictive draconian laws (ie. Sydney lockout laws, nudge, nudge), culture can progress and flourish instilling confidence in humanity. Fostering humanity’s imagination.
Let’s take a look at some of the craziest pictorial evidence:
If you would like to explore further, Eric Goode published a hardcover book “Area: 1983-1987” in 2013. A pictorial recollection of the fabled and infamous club.
No need for Rest In Peace (RIP). View it as, Resurrecting Iconic Places (RIP). What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments down below!