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Studio 54 Opens in New York City

On April 26, 1977, Studio 54 opened it's doors in New York City. In the late 1970s, at the peak of the disco dancing and music trend, the building was renamed after its location and became a world-famous nightclub. The nightclub founders, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional lighting design and kept many of the former TV and theatrical sets, and in the process created a unique dance club that became famous for its celebrity guest lists, restrictive (and subjective) entry policies (based on one's appearance and style), and open club drug use. Here is a brief history with some highlights of Studio 54:

More background with some actual footage of the door at Studio 54 and the celebrities who frequented the club:

A late seventies news report with footage inside the club and a rare interview of Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell:

More background and stories from Studio 54, including some rare footage and interviews with frequent guests, Truman Copote, and a young Michael Jackson:

In December 1978, Rubell was quoted in the New York newspapers as saying that Studio 54 had made $7 million in its first year and "only the Mafia made more money". This got the attention of the IRS. Shortly thereafter, on December 14, 1978, the nightclub was raided and Rubell and Schrager were arrested for skimming $2.5 million. The club had paid just $8000 in taxes in 1977. The feds found a reported $600,000 in garbage bags hidden in the building, in addition to 300 Quaalude pills and at least a few ounces of cocaine (reports varied on the actual amount).

Studio 54 closed with a final party in 1980 when Diana Ross and Liza Minelli serenaded Rubell and Schrager. Ryan O'Neal, Farrah Fawcett, Mariel Hemingway, Richard Gere, Jack Nicolson, Reggie Jackson and Sylvester Stallone were among the guests that night. Rubell and Schrager pleaded guilty to tax evasion and spent 13 months in prison.

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