Sunday, January 29, 2012

52 Books in 52 Weeks - Book Five: Clubland

Clubland by Frank Owen

My personal foray into the New York club world was thankfully brief and took place back in the disco era. All I will say is that Saturday Night Fever was real. So is Jersey Shore (they are the spawn).

Clubland took place in the late 80s and 90s, by which time I had become comfortably suburbanized. So it was very interesting to read about a subculture that existed in my hometown shortly after I left for a more sanitized lifestyle.

The book centers on The Limelight, a notorious nightclub located in a decommissioned church. It gives an up-close-and-personal view of four “characters” who were intimately involved in the club and its culture: Peter Gatien, the club owner, who believes he is above the law; Michael Alig, a “club kid” whose personal credo is “It’s hip to be a mess”; Lord Michael Caruso, who endears himself to the rich, the famous, and the f***d up; and Chris Paciello, who tries desperately to escape from his “wise guy” past only to have it continually catch up with him.

If you need another good reason to stay away from the world of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, read this book. Reading Clubland was like watching Titanic for the hundredth time: fascinating for the arrogance of the characters who felt the party would never end and disheartening because you pretty much knew how it was all going to turn out. Throw in a murder most foul and you have a fascinating journey through the gritty underbelly of the New York club scene at the end of the last century.

The suburbs have never looked so good.

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