Tunnel (New York nightclub)
Tunnel was a nightclub in New York City, located at 220 Twelfth Avenue, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, in the Terminal Warehouse Company Central Stores Building, which is now part of the West Chelsea Historic District. It operated from 1986 to 2001.
History and description
Tunnel, frequently misnamed as "The Tunnel", was opened in December 1986 at the cost of $5 million by Eli Dayan – the founder of Bonjour Jeans – in a space which was formerly a railroad freight terminal. Eli Dayan sold the property to Marco Riccota in January 1990. Peter Gatien acquired the 80,000-square-foot nightclub in 1992. The club was named for the tunnel-like shape of the main room, in which train tracks from the early 1900s ran through a sunken area of the dance floor. These were a relic of an era in which railroad sidings from the Eleventh Avenue freight line of the New York Central Railroad ran directly into warehouse buildings in that area, so that goods could be transferred to and from freight cars which were floated across the Hudson on barges from Hoboken.
The club was architecturally distinctive: a long, narrow space with multiple rooms on several levels. The dance floor featured several dance cages. The decor of the club changed frequently. One room, decorated by artist Kenny Scharf, was called the Kenny Scharf Lava Lounge. Others were decorated as Victorian libraries, S/M dungeons, and lounges. The club featured unisex bathrooms, which were the converted locker rooms formerly used by the freight terminal's workers. They had modern stalls with partitions and doors for privacy, with extant rows of old lockers attached to the wall, as well as marks where the former shower stalls had been removed. In the late 1980s, Club Kids, including Michael Alig, Amanda Lepore, and RuPaul, often gathered in the V.I.P. room in the basement.
During its lifespan, Tunnel frequently hosted Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia, Jonathan Peters, Little Louie Vega, Eddie Baez, DJ Justin Time, DJ Corbett, Bobby Rios and Hex Hector after the close of the original Sound Factory in the mid-1990s. It later presented Kurfew, a trance-techno oriented Saturday night party started by promoter Jeff Brenner and hosted by talent such as Lady Bunny, DJ Urbanox, Peppermint, DJ Vito Fun, DJ Michael T, Amanda Lepore and DJ Steve Sidewalk and introducing young clubbers to talent including Danny Tenaglia, Jonny McGovern, and Cazwell (as Morplay). While the club attracted primarily gay audiences, it also attracted members of the hip hop community. One advantage of the multiple rooms of the club was the ability to host different types of parties, with as many as five or more DJs spinning different styles of music to varying crowds. In 1998, DJ Amadeus was named the resident DJ at Tunnel.
Tunnel closed its doors late in 2001 due to non-payment of rent and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's quality-of-life campaign. Gatien had been accused of drug trafficking, charges he was acquitted of, although he and his wife pleaded guilty to tax evasion and were deported to Canada in 2003.
In popular culture
- Tunnel was the featured location in the video for the 1987 classic hit single "Just Got Paid" by Johnny Kemp.
- Tunnel was used for a scene in the 1988 movie Vampire's Kiss, filmed between August and October 1987.
- In the 1991 novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, the club is frequented by Patrick Bateman and his associates as a trendy place to bring women or to purchase cocaine.
- In the HBO TV series Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw discusses having a "drunken night" at Tunnel at age 22, which resulted in an unplanned pregnancy.
- Tunnel is featured in the hit single "Party Ain't A Party" by Queen Pen in the lyric "catch me on the rebound, or maybe at the Tunnel".
- Tunnel is the location of the opening sequence in the 1998 Hype Williams film Belly.
- Actor Vin Diesel once worked as a bouncer at Tunnel.
- The rap group Onyx released a song called "The Tunnel" on their 2014 album Wakedafucup detailing their history with the historic night club.
- A scene from Kids, a film by Larry Clark, was shot at Tunnel in the summer of 1994.
- A scene from Straight Outta Compton shows Eazy-E meeting up with Ice Cube in a club. Ice Cube says the club was The Tunnel in a radio interview at 6m38s.
- "Same Scene, Different Security, in Reopened Club" New York Times (October 14, 1996)
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. "West Chelsea Historic District Designation Report" p.87
- Lewis, David L. "Fast Track: Club News: Discos in the '80s: Stayin' Alive" New York (June 8, 1987)
- Tom Duane (May 13, 2008). "Testimony By New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane Before The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission's Public Hearing On The Proposed Designation Of The West Chelsea Historic District". Office of the State Senator. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
- Pareles, Jon. "Spinning a Magic Spell for Dancing the Night Away" New York Times (February 6, 1998)
- St. James, James Disco Bloodbath, p. 65
- Michael Musto (Jan 19, 1999). "At Kurfew, the revelers sloppy-kiss as if their only romantic experience was from watching Freddie Prinze Jr. movies.". Village Voice.
- "Event@ShowSale: NIGHT of NYC HOUSE x 2 = DJ AMADEUS (NYC) and JOHNNY VICIOUS (NYC) in Boston". Rosconcert.com. Retrieved 2013-05-06.
- Wadler, Joyce. "Judge Denies Bid by Gatien To Select Team To Run Club" New York Times (August 22, 2001)
- Steinhauer, Jennifer. "Club Owners Becoming Focus Of Effort to Combat Drug Use" New York Times (April 28, 2001)
- "Metro Briefing | New York: Manhattan: Deportation For Club Owner" New York Times (August 22, 2003)
- "Vin Diesel: From nightclub bouncer to action hero" on CNN Entertainment
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