One night in the late 1970’s I was given a photo assignment by a major publication to shoot an event at Studio 54. The place had only been open for a few months but had garnered the reputation of being the newest, “most happening” place in town, that was also very hard to get into. Luckily I had my official press pass and gained entry.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived. Would this just be some “flash in the pan” hot spot for New York’s burgeoning Yuppie crowd, or would it be something different? I was pleasantly surprised by what I found there that night.

As frequent guest Andy Warhol use to say “Studio 54 was a dictatorship at the door, and a democracy on the dance floor.” The crowd was a beautiful, harmonious mix of straight, LGBTQ, African-American, Latino, young and old, rich and struggling, as well as a few celebrities thrown into the mix. I give much credit to co-owner, Steve Rubell, for creating and “casting” the perfect party night after night.

It was this judgment free, inclusive environment of acceptance that caught my eye as a photographer that first night, and that kept me going back for many nights after. I was interested in capturing the energy and freedom of expression that I witnessed at Studio 54. I was fascinated by the NYC Club People where everyone was a “star for the night” and Studio 54 was a great place to lose your mind, and your inhibitions.

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All Photographs © Bill Bernstein / All Rights Reserved

Lillian Carter's Galla Contact Sheet with Andy Warhol
Men & the Moon & Spoon
Dancers of Studio 54
Studio 54 Exterior
Steve Rubell & Halston
Queen Potassa de la Fayette
Studio 54 Moon & Coke Spoon
Cowboy Dancer