Xenon (nightclub)

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Xenon was a popular New York City disco and nightclub in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was located in the former Henry Miller Theatre at 124 West 43rd Street (now the site of the Stephen Sondheim Theatre) which, prior to Xenon, had been renamed Avon-at-the-Hudson and was operating as a porn house. Xenon was the only nightclub popular enough to compete with Studio 54.[1]

Founding of Xenon[edit]

Xenon was founded in June 1978 by Howard Stein and Peppo Vanini.[2] Stein had been a promoter who had brought rockers such as The Who, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, and the Rolling Stones to New York City. Vanini ran some of the greatest clubs in Europe including Regines. He and Peppo Vanini had met at Studio 54. (Xenon is chemical element 54.) Madelyn Fudeman was the publicity person.[3]


Xenon was regarded as much more of a "Fashion Crowd", while Studio 54 was more Hollywood. Still, many celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Halston, Michael Jackson, Jack Nicholson, Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, Tom Cruise, Richard Avedon, Cher, O. J. Simpson, Christopher Reeve, Elton John, Roger Moore, John McEnroe, Tony Curtis, Brooke Shields, Freddie Mercury, David Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Robin Williams frequented the club.[3] The walls were silver and rays of light came out from a giant "X" above the dance floor.[1] People at Xenon often liked to dance with fewer clothes than people at Studio 54, sometimes wearing swimsuits while dancing. Xenon was the first night club to provide go-go boxes for amateur go-go dancers to dance on.[4] This got many people interested in go-go dancing. Xenon was featured in a Life magazine article about disco. The full-time Disc-Jockey (DJ) was Tony Smith and the part-time DJs were Louis Martinez and John "Jellybean" Benitez, who later had an affair with Madonna.


Xenon closed in 1984. The interior of the building was razed to make way for a skyscraper; its neo-Georgian facade, landmarked by the city, remains intact. The 1,055-seat Stephen Sondheim Theater was built below ground to replace the original theater space, making it one of only two subterranean houses on Broadway.

In popular culture[edit]


  • Xenon is mentioned in the lyrics for the Roxy Music song “True to Life.”

The party scenes in "Eyes of Laura Mars" starring Faye Dunaway and Tommy Lee Jones were shot at Xenon (1978).


  1. ^ a b Schreiber, Abby (2015-11-13). "Your Parents Were Cooler Than You: Scope Amazing Photos From NYC's '70s Disco Scene". Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Xenon and the strange journey of a Broadway theater: Noel Coward, Fellini, porn, disco, 'Cabaret', Dame Edna". Bowery Boys. 2010-07-16. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b Miezitis, Vida Night Dancin' New York:1980 Ballantine (Photography by Bill Bernstein) "Xenon" Pages 22-40--Has numerous photos of Xenon.
  4. ^ Anthony Haden-Guest The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night New York:1997 William Morrow Co. See numerous references to Xenon in the index

Coordinates: 40°45′21″N 73°59′06″W / 40.7559°N 73.9850°W / 40.7559; -73.9850