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The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night by Anthony Haden-Guest (2009-12-08) Paperback – 1788
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Hayden-Guest's journalistic perspective of New York's night life pays homage to the ingredients that made the magic: the investors/owners/promoters that facilitated the venues, the celebrity culture that used these venues as their personal playgrounds and the wannabes that simply wanted a taste of the upscale life. A roughly chronological journey that takes readers through the short-lived life-cycle of Studio 54 and many other clubs that dominated New York's nightlife, the book clearly defines a by-gone era. Although numerous other clubs are detailed, none have the substantive clout that defined Studio 54 at its peak or the example it set when its owners were imprisoned for tax evasion. Because of this, Studio 54 dominates the pages of the book.
While I was expecting somewhat of a detailed historical overview of Studio 54 and its societal impact, I found the book more of a wistful remembrance of someone who experienced those days first-hand. As a columnist/critic, Hayden-Guest had a front-row seat to the social scene back then and rubbed elbows with New York's social royalty (including the club owners). THE LAST PARTY encapsulates the recollection of experiences from those who shared the rise and fall of Studio 54 and the club scene through the 70s and 80s. Their voices, while offering veracity to the storyline, tend to merge and disrupt the book's reading flow. But through it all, we get a fly-on-the-wall perspective that details the decadence of an era where fun was a nothing more careless behavior (drugs and sex) in a seedy environment. There is plenty of celebrity coursing through the book as Studio 54 (and some of the lesser clubs) served as THE watering-hole for the day's social elite (Warhol, Halston, Grace Jones, Bianca/Mick Jagger and a myriad of designers, artists, models and musicians). The book was written in the 90s, so many of the stories likely won't carry the shock value they surely had almost 20 years ago. Still, it represents an interesting look at what was considered "cutting-edge" back in the 70s and 80s, when hardcore drug-use, sexual proclivities and AIDS were not "mainstream" issues.
While I found THE LAST PARTY interesting, it never gave me that nostalgic kick that I expected ... in other words, I don't feel I missed-out on anything special by not experiencing Studio 54. But I did enjoy the book's manner of peeking under the veil that covered the lurid, murky world of greed, violence, lust, intoxication and inhibition that defined New York nightlife back then.
Most recent customer reviews
If I paid for it and started it, I feel obligated to finish. But this book is just horrendous.Read more