IF YOU'RE ON THE OUTSIDE, YOU'RE IN: THE INFAMOUS RED VELVET ROPE CULTURE AT STUDIO 54
Studio 54, the infamous New York City discotheque open from 1977 to 1980, was a notorious site in New York City for not only being one of the most sought-after venues in nightlife, but also for its ruthless red velvet rope culture. Disco was a defining artifact in American culture in the 1970s and greatly reflected the social and political atmosphere across the country. With the culmination of various political upheavals such as the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal, many Americans simply wanted to party, use drugs, and openly explore their sexuality. Studio 54 was, arguably, the most influential and well-known of the many discos - admired and loathed by those within and on the outside of the disco scene. Many outsiders and eager spectators observed the club as exclusionary and dictator-like. This thesis deconstructs the red velvet rope culture and analyzes the innate behavior and qualities of the clubbers with the aim to understand how these people contributed to the tremendous popularity of Studio 54. Gossip columns, newspapers, tabloids and archived footage offers compelling insight to the way of the disco-door as well as the qualities and behaviors that club goers possessed as such to gain admission. In this project, I capture Studio 54 as a cultural phenomenon and analyze how the door culture elevated people who were previously considered on the outside of social barriers in New York City in the 1970s from aspects such as class, sexuality, and artistic form.
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