Danceteria was arguably the most influential and important club in New York City in the 1980s. Any musician who mattered played there, and it was featured prominently in the movies Desperately Seeking Susan and Liquid Sky. I spent a little while going through this intriguing collection of Danceteria flyers, and came upon the following names: the Fleshtones, Madonna, Sonic Youth, Marc Almond, Sade, Alien Sex Fiend, the Smiths, Cocteau Twins, Gene Loves Jezebel, Diamanda Galas, Beastie Boys. On December 16, 1982, A Certain Ratio played Danceteria with Madonna opening—she was at the time employed as the club’s coat check girl. It’s a place with that sort of pedigree.
The two main figures at Danceteria were Rudolf Pieper and Jim Fouratt. Pieper was German, and it’s his accent you hear in the crazy commercial embedded below, in which he calls himself “the head bimbo of Danceteria” and supports Esperanto as the language of the club and claims to oppose the inclusion of a Belgian ethnic group called the Walloons unless they “dress fabulously,” of course. Oh, and “exiled Latin American dictators have free admission here, every night.”
John Argento, who was instrumental in the club’s move from West 37th Street to 21st Street in 1982, says, according to Trey Speegle’s blog, this about the commercial:
What can I say? Low budget, public access TV… Rudolf does the voice over, reiterating long standing door policies such as ‘Latin American Dictators get in for free’…’Walloons only if they’re dressed fabulously.’
I remember him doing the voice over in the fourth floor DJ booth… I believe the soundtrack was from the movie La Dolce Vita. A difference of opinion then, the choice of music looks like the right thing to have done now.
One might ask, why would a club that was as successful as Danceteria was at that time even bother with a commercial? Why would they need it? Jim Fouratt, who was the talent booker for the club, remembers it as “a nightmare of lies and intimadation [sic],” in effect an effort to displace Fouratt’s role in the club as well as other ventures like Interferon, which failed. Here’s Fouratt’s account, typos included:
I was sent this commercial for Danceteria .. it comes from an ugly period. I had been locked out of the club on 21st and my average normal business accounts were frozen because my business partner had accept the offer of Alex Delorenzo of the son of mobster and real estate mogul offer to work with his protege John Argento who he had invested over a million dollars into a failed club that was to replicate the Original Danceteria . It ws called Interferon. (good grief) .It failed . Delorenzo called me and I brought putting to the meeting . I forgot the history of putting Germans and Italian together (sorry) , Argento and Delorenzo’s son-in-law had cleared a block of rent regulated tenants in the East 50’s so Delorenzo could raze and build. They had used every kind of intimadation to frighten the hell out of the tenants. Delorenzo wanted to reward them and Argento said he wanted to open a club on 21st in a building Delorenzo owned (it was a dead street at the time). He did . It failed We made a deal and one of the points was Argento was not to be involved .; Delorenzo wanted to protect his other business realtons and insisted Argento be icharge of all the day deliveries .. including liquore , napkins, etc the cash items and the cleaning and removal of the trash. We agreed once it was agreed the Argento would have nothing to do with the club other than his janitorial job I sued Delorenzo for contract violation (yes sued Godfather like business family ) and sued Rudolf for fiduciary betrayal.. it ws a nightmare for six years . This commercial was to establish Rudolf as Danceteria honcho.. he had been telling people I had AIDS .. and that is why I wasn’t there . The real reason was greed .. i was told I was paying talent too much money .. and the club when I was they was a hige hit. Trust me I would neve have approved a commercial .. we did nto need it ..and my door policy insured a fabulous safe mix of people and my bookings were the best in the universe (ok hyperbole) ... this is nto the place to go into just what a nightmare of lies and intimadation .. but since this video has turnes up ... I wanted to put it in context… and no i did not nor do have AIDS or am I HIV +. ...
Golly! Who would have thought that such an innocent-seeming and campy commercial could have that kind of darkness behind it?
It was edited by Danny Cornyetz, who went by the name Dee Cortex. Experience some primo 1980s oddness below:
via Trey Speegle