An extensive collection of advertisements, club cards, ephemera, and invitations publicizing venues and events at entertainment clubs and venues in New York City, New York, New Jersey, and Florida. The materials make use of a variety of graphic arts styles.
Scope and Contents:
The collection is rich in examples of the graphic arts and event advertising in the era before the prevalence of the internet. Marketing tactics, use of urban space, and entertainment offerings may be gleaned from this material. The venues represented catered to homosexual and heterosexual patrons, some being exclusively gay or straight, but many catered to both communities of all ethnic groups. Venues may be represented by one item or many.
The collection is organized into three series.
Series 1: Venue Advertisements and Invitations, 1983-2004, undated. This series contains advertisements, invitations, and posters for nightclubs, dance clubs, restaurants, and musical and comedy events located in Manhattan and the boroughs of New York City. There is minimal material relating to clubs located in New Jersey and Florida. The nightclubs include large and small venues, mainstream as well as "fringe" clubs, clubs catering predominately to African-American, Latino, gay and lesbian communities, and venues featuring other types of music and entertainment (both adult and mainstream) in addition to disco styles, like jazz, hip-hop, and popular music.
Series 2: Correspondence and Personal, 1988-2000, undated. This series contains a small amount of correspondence and personal material for David H. Rockwell, his family, and unidentified others. Within this series are letters, cards, postcards, and business related materials.
Series 3: Other Advertisments and Ephemera, 1983-2002, undated. This series contains material related to special themed events, art openings, restaurant events, and a variety of specialized "happenings" as well as private parties and birthdays. There are also advertisements for dance studios, records, stores, and theaters.
The collection is organized in three series.
Series 1: Venue Advertisements and Invitations, 1983-2004, undated
Series 2: Correspondence and Personal, 1988-2000, undated
Series 3: Other Advertisements and Ephemera, 1983-2002, undated
Biographical / Historical:
These invitations were collected by the donor, David H. Rockwell. He also was responsible for printing many of them. Rockwell was resident in Manhattan during the time many of these invitations were created. He describes the invitations and his collecting, "Disco invitations are generally printed on heavy paper and can vary in size from 2x3 inches to 8x12 inches to full size posters. They are extremely colorful, and have very artistic graphics. They were often themed (Model's Ball, New Year's Eve, Drag Nights), or invited you to a celebrity's birthday bash. They were very prominent in New York City during the '80s and '90s, and were sent to exclusive mailing lists to announce the day, date, time, place and prices for all the differnt parties and dances held every night at New York's discos: Studio 54, Xenon, Magique, Danceteria, Limelight, The Palladium, Webster Hall, Underground and The Tunnel-over a hunderd clubs in all. The art on the invites was either created by some of Manhattan's most talented graphic artists, or those employed by the clubs. My role was to print 5000 or 10,000 lots of these invites, often five or six lots a day. I thought they were so cool I kept samples of many, were mailed many more (yes, I went to the parties and survived), and collected many others from 'invitation shelves' at Manhattan records shops, video rental stores, etc.".
The New York City club scene reached a zenith over the three decades following the 1970s emergence of disco music. The blossoming of what has been termed "club culture" followed the upheavals and advancements of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, the Stonewall Riots, Vietnam War and other cultural touchstones. During the 1980s and 1990s clubs regularly opened and closed as public patronage waxed and waned. On occasions clubs would close and reopen under a new name and/or location. Some clubs were notorious gathering places for the drug culture of the late twentieth century. The emergence of HIV/AIDS and a general decline in dance and music venues as an agent for dating and socializing, in part due to the internet, spelled the demise of many of the venues represented here. Many well-known New York clubs are represented in this collection.
Clubs catering to a variety of musical tastes, ethnic and social groups, as well as restaurants and adult oriented clubs used club cards, postcards, mailings, hand-outs and what are generically known as flyers to advertise their particular offerings. The graphic arts used in these various advertisements not only imparted the necessary information about the event or place but reflected the personality of the club. They also provided a venue for a variety of graphic designers to utilize their talents in formats both large and small. This phenomenon was recently explored in the 2015 exhibition, "The Last Party," curated by the author Anthony Haden-Guest at WhiteBox in New York City.
Materials in the Archives Center
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (AC0060)
Archives Center Collection of Business Americana (AC40404)
The Shamrock Bar: Photographs and Interviews (AC0857)
John-Manuel Andriote Victory Deferred Collection (AC1128)
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection (AC1146)
John-Manuel Andriote Hot Stuff: A Brief History of Disco Collection (AC1184)
DC Cowboys Dance Company Records (AC1312)
Corbett Reynolds Papers (AC1390)
Collection donated by David Hadley Rockwell in 2015.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.