Next Stop, Paradise Garage

Bill Bernstein captures New York’s Disco hey-day in new exhibition
By Bailey Slater | Art | 31 March 2022

Above: DJ Larry Levan at Paradise Garage (1979), courtesy of Bill Bernstein

Disco balls, deep cut leotards and plenty of dancing shoes: this month Glitterbox Recordings and one of NYC’s most prolific photographers, Bill Bernstein, are paying homage to the glamorous glory days of Disco with an exhibition of dancefloor portraits, titled Last Dance.

Above: Xenon Dance Floor (1979), courtesy of Bill Bernstein

Throwing it back to the days when rock ‘n’ roll icons would float into the party atop glossy-maned stallions and scantily-clothed clubbers would don denim shorts on the dancefloor, Bernstein’s gritty, monochrome snaps capture the thrilling essence of Disco and all of its visceral healing powers. Uniting characters and subcultures from across the city, tales of drug-fuelled nights spent on the sticky floors of Paradise Garage, Better Days, Studio 54 (and countless other all-night hotspots that have since closed their doors to the love generation) will all be on display, alongside a special signed edition of Bernstein’s book, also titled Last Dance, that, in the photographer’s own words, stands as “a true documentation of a scene that united so many.”


The exhibit will take place at an event space in Shoreditch run by Glitterbox, the label-cum-nightlife experience birthed by Defected Records boss Simon Dunmore in 2014. Initially inspired by the joyful nights and soulful sounds of Bernstein’s prime, Dunmore’s inclusive club night and label specialise in the deepest of Disco cuts and the freshest, floor-filling house anthems of the modern dance world. Speaking of the forthcoming show, Dunmore said: “Bill Bernstein made a conscious decision to capture the theatre that evolved through those glorious New York parties. The dance floor was the soul of these clubs – arenas of fabulous combat, where both the marginalised and the revered felt the freedom to shine.”

With Bernstein’s photos transporting us back to those very moments in vast, floor-to-ceiling detail, both the photographer and Dunmore hope Last Dance will illustrate the joy and euphoria of this magical era. Viva La Disco!

Last Dance runs from 19th – 29th April. Last Dance, the photobook, is available to purchase here

Above: Le Clique (1979), courtesy of Bill Bernstein

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