Danceteria was a well-known four-floor nightclub located in New York City (NYC) which operated from 1979 until 1986 (and in the Hamptons until 1995). Throughout its history, the club had seven different locations, three in NYC and four in the Hamptons. The second, most famously at 30 West 21st Street in Manhattan, served as the location for the disco scene in the film Desperately Seeking Susan.
The first Danceteria was opened on West 37th Street by German expatriate Rudolf Pieper and talent booker Jim Fouratt. It catered to a diverse after-hours crowd coming from the downtown rock clubs Mudd Club, Trax, TR3, Chinese Chance, CBGB and gay discos The club's DJs were Bill Bahlman, Mark Kamins and Sean Cassette. Bill Bahlman played the first floor Thursdays and Saturdays and the second floor every Friday. Kamins played the second floor on Saturday nights. This facility was closed by the New York police and fire departments in 1980 as it was an illegal unlicensed facility. Kamins credits the first Danceteria with being the first club to play videos and have two separate DJs play for 12 straight hours.The first Danceteria Video Lounge was designed by video artists Emily Armstrong and Pat Ivers, who programmed an eclectic mix of found footage, video art, early music videos and musical performances
In 1982, John Argento hired Fouratt and Pieper to promote and book the talent at a new six-floor facility, which became the noted 21st Street Danceteria. The Danceteria Video Lounge was designed by video artists John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald, who programmed an eclectic mix of found footage, video art, early music videos and musical performances. The club opened to massive crowds and critical acclaim. The regular DJs on the main floor were Kamins and Jody Kurilla. Former Mudd Club DJ Anita Sarko spun on the first floor, where the bands performed, as well as in the VIP room, Congo Bill, for special events.
Three months after opening, Argento and Pieper dismissed Fouratt and hired Ruth Polsky as the club's talent booker. Under Polsky's direction, the club became renowned as one of centers of new wave music in New York and was frequented by many musicians and artists who became famous during the decade, such as Madonna, New Order, Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Sade, Wham!, The Smiths, Squeeze, Cyndi Lauper, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Run-DMC, Depeche Mode, Butthole Surfers, The B-52's, Samhain, Bauhaus, RuPaul, Berlin, Romeo Void, Sonic Youth, Swans, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Cult, Violent Femmes, Soft Cell, The Jesus and Mary Chain, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Rob Zombie.
In 1984 Argento and Pieper opened a wildly successful Hamptons outpost of Danceteria in Water Mill. This was the first trendy NYC nightclub to open in the Hamptons.
The third Danceteria operated from 1990 to 1993 in a run-down midtown space, the Martha Washington Hotel at 30 East 30th Street. Kamins, Johnny Dynell, Walter V and Danceteria veteran Freddy Bastone were the DJs at this facility. Club Kid Goldy Loxxx DJed on the opening night in the lounge room and for the first few Friday nights (along with Kamins) in the main room, one of the first times a club personality was chosen to spin.
The 21st Street location was sold, to be converted to luxury condominiums, slated to open in 2009. In 1986 a time capsule placed in an inert 200-pound bomb was buried in the patio to the west of the building.
John Argento was owner and operator of the 21st Street and 30th Street Danceterias and all of the Hamptons locations. He has been the owner of the U.S. trademark "Danceteria" since 1982, and has vigorously defended the trademark from unlawful appropriation and misuse since the '80s.
- Zeger, Barry. Liner notes of Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Dance Hits of the '80s (1997) Rhino R2 72586.
- "Good Night Mr. Lewis: Mark Kamins, International DJ". Blackbook Magazine. December 15, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
- "Late, Late New York". New York. May 3, 1982. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
- This Used to Be Madonna's Playground: Danceteria to Become Luxury Condos from The New York Observer
- Madonna: For the first time, her friends and lovers speak out from The Independent
- "Haoui Montaug; Disco Doorman, 39". The New York Times. p. 25.
- Video clip of Madonna's first public performance: "Everybody" at "No Entiendes" in Danceteria, with Howie Montaug's introduction.
- Video clip of Rolling Stones press party 1980