54 Studio 54 Photos That Show How Wild It Really Was

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If you’ve never spent time really looking at Studio 54 pictures, then grab yourself a drink and get ready to check these out. From celebrity run-ins nearly every night, to live horses (see: Dolly Parton and Bianca Jagger), to just the craziest scene all day every day….these Studio 54 pictures are the gift that keeps on giving. Enjoy!

It Was Historic Even Before it was History

The very first night that Studio 54 was open, people lined up outside, anxiously waiting to get in. By midnight, it was a party that filled the entire block. Security had to be pulled from the club dance floor and sent outside. When asked why they waited amongst the rambunctious crowd, they answered that they knew they were going to be a part of history. Looking back it seems as they may have predicted the future or just spoke it into existence.

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They Used Four Tons of Glitter

One New Year’s party held in the late 1970’s that was wild enough that you had small reminders popping up months out. Glitter could be found in their hair, socks, shoes and underwear. Robert Isabell, party planner, managed to get the four tons of glitter in. The glitter was dumped on the floor for the guests to party and dance on. People would see the glitter and know that they had attended the New Year’s eve party at Studio 54 and probably had the night of their life.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

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The owners were pure opposites

It is interesting to note that Ian was an attorney and Rubell owned restaurants. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were polar opposites of each other. They met in college at Syracuse University and seemed to fill a void that was in the other. Riding the success from the nightclub, they seemed to fill an emptiness in the other. Ian Schrager was the introvert out of the two and never minded when Rubell was front and center.

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They Made $7 million the First Year

Studio 54 was at the top of the food chain and they made $7 million in a short amount of time, having only been opened for a little under three years. Ian and Steve were not as quiet about it as they should have been. Rubell openly bragged to a host during an interview that “only the Mafia made more money”. They even kept trash bags full of money in the rafters of the basement.
Unfortunately, they bragged too much about it.

They had to Serve Time in Prison

Back to the $7 million. The word got out quick and they got reported to the IRS. Going back through the books, the IRS was able to figure out that they were skimming 80% off of their total profits. Before the owners went to jail, they renovated the club and threw a massive last party before going to serve their prison sentence.

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They were only open for 33 months

It was a star that did not burn long but burned bright. Steve and Ian were high-rolling and enjoying life in the fast lane. That fast lane also included bringing in $7 million dollars in their first year. They seem to have gotten a little carried away when they started skimming some money from their profits. Most even stated that if the club was open into the 80s, it might not have made it. The vibrancy of disco music was a key factor in setting.

We love these Studio 54 pictures.

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Major Celebrities were in Attendance

On any given night you could find celebrities of all social statuses making their way across Studio 54. Studio 54 prided itself on maintaining a “care-free” attitude and strict anonymity. Patrons such as Cher, Donald Trump, Liza Minnelli and Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson loved the club and said he just felt free whenever he walked in the door. There was no doubt that you could dance all night long on the floor and just lose yourself in the moment. This seemed to resonate with a lot of other celebrities.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

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Juice and Club Soda Only

Studio 54 liked to skirt around rules. They opened so quickly that their license to sell liquor had not even been processed. That may have also been because they forgot to apply for it. They obtained caterers’ permits daily just to be able to sell alcohol. The authorities eventually questioned as to why a disco club would need so many daily permits. They were eventually raided and shut down. However, that didn’t stop them. Juice and club soda were served on the house just to help keep the people in.

Studio 54 Woke up New York

In the late ‘70s, the New York night life was awakening from a deep hibernation. The Vietnam had not long ended, the Watergate scandal wasn’t making the front page news anymore and women’s rights were a hot topic. Parties seemed to be popping up left and right, none other epitomized at Studio 54. New Yorkers were anxious to get out and celebrate after feeling like they been locked in for a decade. It almost seemed like everyone was trying to make up for what they missed.

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Bianca Jagger Rode Around on a White Horse

Bianca Jagger rode around and was escorted around Studio 54 by a man that just so happened to be naked — covered in glitter. It appeared to be a wild and joyful night. The photo surfaced and it was talked about how the club seemed to be pushing limits and having TOO much fun. However, looking back on the night, Bianca Jagger explicitly says that it was a disgusting thing to do and did not agree with her former self taking a ride.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

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Ian Schrager Would do it Again

Once released from doing their time, the two business partners maintained the straight & narrow. While reminiscing on his business partner and friend, Ian reflects on the experience and stated it was worth it all. He definitely would go back and do it again as long as it did not have the same outcome as the first time.

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They Rented the Barnyard

After Dolly Parton got wind of the talk surrounding Studio 54, she decided to make an appearance. Once the owners were made aware of the appearance of Dolly Parton herself, they rented out animals from a local stable, including the infamous white horse. Pictures capture Dolly in the moment absolutely enamored with the magnificent beast. Just to make it a bit crazier, chickens and mules were also running around also.

We love these Studio 54 pictures.

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Mick Jagger Could Dance

Mick Jagger had made multiple appearances at Studio 54 and even brought his wife. We all remember Bianca Jagger as the one who rode the white horse across the dance floor. He was a regular and fan favorite at the club.

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It was Almost Impossible to get in

If you were wanting to get inside of Studio 54, you definitely had to impress the doormen. The doorman title did not come without heavy shoulders. Every bribe from every angle was readily available at any given night. Negative bribes, positive bribes – people just wanted to get in!

Someone Died in the Air Vent

It was a coveted place to get into. It was an addicting atmosphere and had this undeniable feeling of ecstasy in the air. Since the doormen were strict about who got to go in, people would try to sneak in different ways and usually got caught. One person tried to repel into the back area but ended up falling. He ended up leaving in an ambulance. Then there the was the poor guy who had gotten dressed up in a suit and tie, to get stuck in the air vent.

Studio 54 was set up Within 6 Weeks.

Studio 54 launched in 1977 with the owners blazing new way. In what used to be an old opera house was the future of Studio 54. The overly ambitious owners managed to drop $400,000 into the renovations of the building. They decided to leave the balcony but renovate other things. In fact, they worked so fast that they opened in just six weeks. It was stated by the accountant that the costs of renovating the place would be equal to $3 million dollars today.

It was Originally an Opera House.

The bones of what was Studio 54 from 1977 to 1980 actually were constructed for the Gallo Opera house. The Gallo Opera House made its home here in 1927. The Gallo Opera House lasted about three years before it was sold and bought to become the New Yorker Theatre in 1930. The building was also home to CBS in 1942. When Studio 54 doors had closed, the space hosted rock concerts until the 1980s. Now the studio is home to Roundabout Theatre Company.

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The Nana of Nightlife

On most nights, you would find a regular at Studio 54 that danced the night away. There was a 77-year old tiny woman that stumbled upon the disco nightlife after her husband passed away. Sally Lippman was soon nicknamed “Disco Sally” and was loved by all. When she hit the dance floor, there was no holding back. At Studio 54 she met her new husband, John Touzos, 26, whom she married at the Magique nightclub.

The Unspoken Dress Code

Studio 54 was a coveted nightclub that everyone wanted to dance in. There were many celebrities that regularly graced the dance floor like Calvin Klein, Andy Warhol and Cher. You could find Rubell or the doormen surveying the line outside and letting only certain people in. Rubell was questioned about it but only really stated that he wanted fun and care-free people inside. If there was a dress code, it was never cracked.

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A Safe Zone for Trans People

In the 1970s the LGBT community was not as accepted as it is currently. The LGBT community were under scrutiny and risked being beat or even murdered on the streets for expressing who they were. At Studio 54 that didn’t matter. There was no ridicule or threat of violence, just freedom to express themselves and dance. It might make sense that it was a safe-haven for the LGBT community as one of the owners was gay himself. Steve Rubell eventually succumbed to complications from AIDs, passing away in 1989.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

Scantily Clad Servers Attracted Patrons

In the late 70s with disco making its way to the top of the charts, you could find the servers in Studio 54 to have little to nothing on. It was something that was alluring to the patrons: Having an attractive server bussing tables and serving drinks. This helped add to the atmosphere of sensuality and suggestive tones. It may have felt like a hypnotic dream among the glitter, pulsating music, drinks and sexual activity. This may have contributed to the hype and why everyone wanted to be apart of it.

Even doctors were in attendance

Not even those with a prestige career could be kept away from the temptation that was Studio 54. Prescription narcotics were passed out as party favors. It was also stated that the doctor would pass out quaaludes that from from what appeared to be a large prescription bottle. Quaaludes are a powerful sedative and helped really ease any party goers anxious minds. At one point, Steve managed to have a coat on that extended to the floor where he hid the party favors he would pass out.

Celebrities Got Special Treatment

To keep up the craze that was Studio 54, celebrities that were invited would be sent for in limos. The limos were stocked for pre-gaming. They were ready to party by the time they arrived. To Steve Rubell it was of the important to keep them satisfied. There were no qualms having staff members tend to certain A-listers to ensure they were never low on beverages or party favors. These staff members were also enlisted to help keep away prying eyes off the celebrities while they celebrated privately.

Andy Warhol was a Regular

The famous Andy Warhol had a birthday party hosted there. It was nothing unusual to host a birthday celebration at the Studio 54, in fact many had done so. On this one particular night Andy received birthday gifts that are a tale to be told. Some of these gifts included some roller skates and a bucket of cash. Warhol remembered the occasion fondly and said it was the best gift he had ever gotten.

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Halloween Managed to be Over-The-Top

On a night where the world dresses up to celebrate Halloween, you would think that the costumers could not get any crazier, but they did. Patrons ended up outdoing themselves coming in as a variety of characters. There was a man that came dressed in nothing but a clear plastic sheet, Jesus Christ carrying a cross through the club, midgets eating dinner above the crowd and men dressed as women. There was no stigma surrounding anything at Studio 54.

We love these Studio 54 pictures.

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There was a Circus Ring

In honor of a special club goers birthday, Valentino had a birthday party hosted for him there by his partner Giancarlo Giammett. In true and honest fashion, the birthday party was nothing short of something that seemed like a tall-tale. They had a circus pit filled with sand, trapezes with mermaids swinging above them, and a palm reader. Among all the birthday parties that were hosted at Studio 54, this could have been the one they really went all out for, besides the last celebration.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

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Simon was Launched There

To go with the disco age and theme, the club was often full of bright and flashing colors. This also included the halls patrons would walk down and spotlights that would shine on the crowd. Milton Bradley decided to use the crazy, flashing colors to his advantage and unveil his new game, Simon, there. The game hung above the crowd at midnight flashing bright colors that resembled a disco ball.

Chic Wrote a Song About it

While the song did not have a good tone or meaning behind it, the song Le Freak became a number one hit for them. Two band members, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, were turned away at the door despite their fame. Nile and Bernard turned their anger into a song and eventually recorded it, after a few rewrites. The twist of the story is that they were actually invited there personally by Grace Jones for a New Year’s Eve party. The guest list wasn’t updated when they showed up.

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A First Lady was in attendance

Despite rehabilitating herself from prescription drugs and alcohol, former First Lady Betty Ford had made an appearance at last once. She was obsessed with everything that was 70s. She incorporated the style and music into her daily life. There is a picture of her mingling with celebrities at the Studio 54 while her bodyguards stayed close by. She donned the latest 70s fashion and was often seen bogeying down the halls of the White House.

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They had a party before they went to prison

Even while they were being investigated by the IRS, the owners decided to renovate the club. Before being sent away to serve almost two and a half years in prison for tax evasion and obstruction of justice, they had one gigantic last blow out. They had sold the club while they did their stint. Once out, they decided to open up what turned out to be a successful hotel chain.

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Liza Minnelli was a Regular

Studio 54 was actually one of her favorite spots to hang out at. When the owners Steve and Ian were going to start their sentences, she serenaded them at their last big bash they hosted. Among the many pictures that are floating around of her at the Studio, one sticks out the most and that was where she was laughing at another club goers shoes.

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It Was Hippie Idealistic

If you asked the generation of the 70s about what was central to it, you would probably get a general idea of Studio 54. There was the pulsating and thumping music, strobe and disco lights, open sexual intimacy and the mind altering party favors. Studio 54 could have been the 1960s in a second, more expanded version. It felt like what they did in three years, was done in the decade prior.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

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Anything Goes Even With Clothes

The more outrageous, the better. The owners encouraged weird wear and celebrated the diversity that showed up. Everyone wanted to outdo the next party goer to be the most eye catching and talked about. Attire would range from having face paint, elaborate headwear and accessories. It was also key to have an outlandish outfit or costume so you could be noticed at the door and let in. You might see people in full attire, dressed for a black tie affair or even not having anything on.

Did you recognize Debby Harry at Studio 54 in this photo?

studio 54 pictures are wild

One Lady Showed up with a Broken Leg

Imagine getting your groove on with a full leg cast. That is actually what one woman did in 1979. She decided to glitz and glam up her cast from top to bottom. Despite the full cast, it didn’t stop her from dancing the night away. No one seemed to bat an eye. There were probably crazier things that showed up at the doors but you really could not miss the amount of glitter her cast had.

We love these Studio 54 pictures.

studio 54 pictures Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger Knew How to Get Down

Along with the long list of A-list celebrities that liked to cut loose in Studio 54, Terminator and eventual Mayor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger could be found dancing among them. The late 70s were the peak of his body building days and it was certainly noticeable. Arnold is still one of the most popular bodybuilders of all time with a net worth of $400 million.

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Couples Were Not Excluded

Despite the overly sexual atmosphere, it didn’t seem to ward off couples. It seemed to have enough ambience that it seemed like a date night at any regular club. Other activities may have helped in easing the stress of daily life but you could see a lot of them hanging out. Many celebrity couples were spotted at Studio 54 like Mick Jagger and Bianca, Donald Trump and Ivana, and Jack Haley Jr and Liza Minnelli.

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Political figures showed up often

The current prime minister of Canada’s mom was a big attendee back in the day. At the time, Margaret Trudeau was married to the 15th Prime Minister of Canada as well. It sure didn’t seem to be ashamed of despite what the club was known for. Margaret lit up the dance floor under the beaming disco lights. While they were going there to decompress and avoid politics, it definitely did not affect their reputation outside the club.

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Robin Williams Went and Took His Wife

Like previously stated, couples didn’t shy away from attending the club together. It could even be said that it was an extravagant date night and a way to decompress from the stressful lifestyle. The atmosphere of Studio 54 was refreshing even though it was loud and packed. You were there and there were no cameras in your face. Celebrities were free to enjoy the night. Being able to go into a packed club and not have to worry about people noticing who you were and asking for autographs made it seem like they were normal.

Royalty Made the Guest List

Any member of the royal family were on the guest list. The princess at the time, Diane von Fürstenberg of Germany made several appearance through the Studio’s short life. Steve Rubell extended invitations to the royal families just to ensure that he was bringing in more exclusive guests, guests that were more interesting than himself. This helped keep Studio 54 talked about and buzzed over. People wanted to come just to be able to meet them. Having famous people walk in the door was a guaranteed way to bring in the cash.

We love these Studio 54 pictures.

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Gene Simmons and Cher Frequented

While the two were seeing each other, they made it a frequent stop to hang out. They could be seen sharing a finger food in a private room in the back. The private rooms were often filled with celebrities wanting to step away from the excitement or just to have a private moment. One stars would make it to the back rooms, security would remain close by so no one would peek in or interrupt. Steve made it clear that A-Listers got the special treatment.

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Costumes Were Encouraged

If you weren’t come dressed to be extravagant, eye catching or head-turning, you probably wouldn’t have been let in. Some out of this world outfits included a disheveled Village People member, gowns with rollerblades, nothing but basketball shorts or black tie apparel. Steve Rubell liked to ensure that the most interesting people were coming into his club. This helped keep up the buzz surrounding the club and made it fun to be there.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

Even the Decor was Excessive and Different

A personal favorite decoration was the crescent moon that fed itself with a spoon. Other decor included glass chandeliers, neon lights and plants. As the themes of the party changed, so would the decor. On different occasions you would find the paintings would change, lighting and statues switched up to keep things fresh. Among the decor you were bound to find loose party favors covering the floor until they were picked up by staff. That counts as decor right?

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Diana Ross Showed Everyone How to cut Loose

Diana Ross really knew how to let go on the dance floor, and she wasn’t afraid to let anyone see. Just to liven the part up a bit she would also frequent the DJ booth. You could take bets whether she would be singing or dancing. In photos of her nights out, you could see her having the time of her life. There were no limits on the packed dance floor. There were hardly any patrons that would be seen not having a good time.

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They Knew how to Throw a Party

Acrobats would make appearances, dancers were frequent and live bands would be brought in. There was no predictability in what you would walk in and see. On some nights, balloons or high end clothes would rain from the ceilings. Sometimes there were half naked women dancing around you on the floor. We don’t even need to cover the rubber room. The music was always up to date and put on by the most experience DJs. To mix it up the DJs were sometimes traded out for live performers.

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The Rubber Room

The Rubber Room really doesn’t need an introduction but we’re going to bring it up anyways. It sounds exactly like you’re hearing it, rubber. It was sectioned off somewhere in the balcony. It can be easily guessed what it used for. It definitely was easier to clean. When the contractors were given the plans and description of the room, they asked if it was a “sex room”, they got a “yes”. The rubber room kept up to its reasons for building and was the easiest room to clean.

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It had a Love-Hate Relationship

While you could come in and be surrounded by thumping musics that made the walls shake and freely pouring booze, Studio 54 had so much more to offer. People could be found in line for hours for just a chance to get in. This led to people swearing against it but once you did manage to get in, oh it was Heaven. You were free to do anything or anyone and be yourself with no judgement. While most were begging to get in, others condemned the club.

We love these Studio 54 pictures.

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Grace Jones Often Stopped by

With big thanks to Studio 54s PR representative, Carmen D’Alessio who kept the A-Listers in her Rolodex. Among other A-listers that would grace Studio 54 with their presence, among them was Grace Jones. Jones would bring her outlandish outfits from the runway to the Studio. She would even go to extreme lengths to make sure that the makeup was matching and just as out there. Others would try to outdo Grace and sometimes succeeded. Only to have her come back the next time with something else.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

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People were Free to Cross Dress

Dame Rollerena was a boy that hailed from Southern Kentucky and adapted quickly to the New York lifestyle. He would soon become a drag queen and put together his signature look of a 50’s styled hat with a gown that had frills going down it from a thrift store. Dame Rollerena would soon don a pair of signature roller skates as well and become a popular attraction at every bar. It was a judgement free and come as you are zone.

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Sir Elton John Knew how to Make an Appearance

Not going to be too far from the extravagant outfits and lewdness happening, Sir Elton John was to be found among the party goers, sometimes to boozed up to even acknowledge what was happening around him. It was not a secret to anyone that Sir Elton was usually consumed by drugs and booze, and whatever else. He fit right in. When combing through the photos taken you will find him sitting somewhere in the background or off to the side, not really appearing to know what was going on.

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Every Occasion Warranted a Celebration

On any given night you walked in, there was a celebration happening. A birthday, getting out of jail or landing a record deal. One notable evening was a celebration for the Temptations when they managed to score a record deal with Atlantic Records. Many famous people hosted birthday parties there and each one was unique. The last celebration they had was before they had to go to prison. Steve and Ian decided to celebrate their one last night of freedom.

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Guests were not Limited to the US

Previously mentioned was a princess from Germany but Studio 54 had others guests attend that had crossed the ocean. While Sophia Loren came to the US to manage her book tour, she attended Studio 54. She had heard of the Studio putting the town into a frenzy and wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Margaret Trudeau made it a point to come down more than a few times and get lost on the dance floor.

These Studio 54 pictures are wild…

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The Queen was fed by hand

If you thought that Studio 54 could not top having horses rode across the dance floor, then you are in for a surprise. Somehow the universe managed to put Roy Halston and Queen of DIamonds, Elizabeth Taylor in the same room and right next to each other. There is a photograph that was taken where you can see Halston hand feeding the Queen. The story behind the handing feeding of Elizabeth Taylor remains unknown but sure does make for a great photo.

We love these Studio 54 pictures.

Studio 54 left, then disco did.

For the second time, IRS agents would swoop in and end the fun. They were tipped off about the copious amounts of drugs and cash that was stored throughout the club and in the vault. The owners inadvertently helped the IRS a bit because they kept meticulous records of everything. Even their illegal activities were notated down to amounts and times. Unfortunately, after they got out, the party had ended and disco went with it. Studio 54 ended and the owners managed to open a reputable hotel chain.