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Wild New Flashy Bedlam of the Discotheque

May 27, 1966

To enjoy the latest thing in discothèques, you had better wear ear plugs, dark glasses and shin guards. Otherwise, you may be deafened, blinded and bruised in an electronic earthquake that engulfs you completely in an experience called "total recreation." It has developed out of the tamer discothèque clubs, and its common ingredients are blinking lights that look like Broadway signs gone berserk, canned or live music, dancing and far-out movies fashed on small screens. One place has a boutique, where you can buy nutty clothes to wear so you really fit into the picture. In these new clubs everybody looks like a kook in a Kubla-Khanteen.


So far, about a half dozen of these nightclubs have been installed around New York and Chicago, and plans for more are being rushed. A touring unit, created by Pop Artist Andy Warhol and equipped with movie projectors and musicians, has been playing Los Angeles before moving on to San Francisco. Unexpectedly, the clubs report that liquor consumption i .less than in conventional spots, mainly because the pandemonium takes the place of stimulants. At New York's chic Arthur, granddaddy of the new clubs, so many customers prefer soft drinks that they are sold at the same price as whisky, and the new Cheetah sells no hard liquor at all. With no threat of a hangover, most customers go home pooped but somehow restored, as if they had undergone successful shock therapy.

The World, in Garden City, N.Y., once an aircraft hangar, offers crowd of 2,500 multiple entertainment. While the band plays on raised stage at right, a TV camera throws image of dancers on center screen and slides appear on side screen.

At Arthur, in New York, the country's most famous discothèque, the patrons lend a bizarre air to the club, arrayed before a Mondrianesque background in their Op art mad rags. In foreground is director, Sybil Burton Christopher.

At the Lightworks, guests are bathed in mottled colors which all but blot out what they are wearing. Here, the dancers churn in response to mood keyed by pop music and "light paintings" which are flashed onto screens in the background.

Buying to the beat at Cheetah's boutique:

Cheetah has a boutique, within earshot of the big band playing inside. Here, boutique partner Lillemor (left) shows Carole Boyte of the Bronx the latest in Carnaby Street Styling. A male customer in plastic cap ppers from changing booth at right. Clients often leave their street clothes in shop and wear new mad finery on the dance floor.

First published by LIFE magazine, May 27, 1966.

Andy Warhol's touring troupe, The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, creates a cacophony for dancers at The Trip in Los Angeles, while films of troupe, made by Warhol, are shown on screens at rear.

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