"On a good night, Studio 54 was the best party of your life," journalist Anthony Haden-Guest told the BBC in 2012 of New York City's iconic 54th Street nightclub. "Everything was happening at the same moment: there was the woman's movement, the gay movement, ethnic movements of all kinds. The whole place was combustible with energy." As the 21 photos of celebrities at Studio 54 below show, that sentiment couldn't seem truer; perhaps Liza Minelli's daughter, Lorna Luft, put it best when she wrote in her 1999 memoir, Me and My Shadows, "Studio 54 made Halloween in Hollywood look like a PTA meeting."
In the 33 months it was open, Studio 54 never lacked bravado. From Diane von Furstenberg (then Princess Diane of Fürstenberg) seductively posting up on a banquette to Bianca Jagger (then Mrs. Mick Jagger) on her white horse, the candids taken behind the scenes at the world's most infamous nightclub have been burned into our cultural consciousness of the disco era in a way that nightlife photography of today rarely does. Here are some of the best shots of celebrities at Studio 54
during its 1970s heyday.
Liza Minnelli, Liza Taylor, Roy Halston & Former First Lady Betty Ford In The Legendary VIP Room
Aside from the fact that all four are wearing Halston, what on earth could they possibly have in common?!
Minnelli & Halston, Likely Plotting Their Escape To The Latter's Nearby Townhouse
According to a Harper's Bazaar interview with Liza Minelli, these two (along with Bianca Jagger) "spent so much time at Studio that on its first anniversary, the club tried to stage a performance," of which Minelli recalled, "Oh, that? There was a platform set up, and they were playing one of my records, and Bianca was like, 'What the hell?' And I said, 'Just keep moving.'"
Studio 54 Co-Owner Steve Rubell, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler & The Runaways' Cherrie Currie
Long live teenage MJ's afro.
Jackson Drinking At The After Party For The Opening Of Broadway's Beatlemania
Not sure who the unidentified companion to his left is, but be sure to admire 19-year-old Jackson in his short-lived velvet suit moment.
Andy Warhol, Calvin Klein, Brooke Shields & Rubell In The DJ Booth
Warhol famously quipped that the key to the club's success its formula: "a dictatorship at the door and a democracy on the dance floor."
Rubell & Warhol Watching The Academy Awards During An Oscars Viewing Party
Unclear as to why everyone was sitting on the floor, though.
Mick Jagger & Jerry Hall Hamming It Up For The Cameras
You'd think it would be weird for Jagger to turn up at the same club his wife of seven years celebrated her birthday on the arm of a 21-year-old model...
Mick Jagger & Jerry Hall Getting Couple-y
Grace Jones Rocking Body Glitter Onstage
While many a photo still circulates around the internet of the singer raising hell with longtime friend Warhol, check out this 1977 Kenzo fashion show to get a sense of what the club really felt like with Jones in the room.
Lorna Luft At A Birthday With Debbie Harry & Her Blondie Co-Founder, Guitarist Chris Stein
Lorna Luft's mother, the inimitable Liza Minnelli, naturally chose Studio 54 as the venue for her then-husband Jack Haley's birthday party.
Elton John Leaving In Sunglasses He Clearly Wore For Practicality's Sake
Who knew Elton John spent portions of the '70s not in feathers?
Bianca Jagger & Calvin Klein In Their Black Tie Finest
Jagger, then-wife of Mick, was a Studio 54 regular and even had her over-the-top 30th birthday there, where a naked giant covered in gold glitter led her around the club on horseback.
Fashion Photographer Francesco Scavullo & Tina Turner Laughing At A Banquette
Scavullo was best known for his Cosmopolitan covers and celebrity portraits, many of which featured Studio 54 vets like Minelli and Shields.
Liz Taylor & Betty Ford Bonding In Sequins
Remember what I said earlier about Liz Taylor and Betty Ford having nothing to talk about? I was wrong: In 1982, Taylor became one of the first celebrities to go public with her addiction struggles after checking herself into Ford's namesake rehabilitation clinic.
Supermodel Beverly Johnson & Rubell Kissing Goodnight
As the supermodel writes in her memoir, The Face That Changed It All, her one and only visit to Studio 54 lasted three days.
Cher In All Her Fedora'ed, Suspender'ed Glory
As great as this shot is, it's almost nothing in comparison to the picture of Cher and then-boyfriend Gene Simmons (in full KISS regalia) sharing what appears to be a hotdog.
Stevie Wonder Serenading His Friends
Among the 300 invited guests at Stevie Wonder's party for his New York secretary, Mary Ann Cummings, were Steven Stills (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) on drums, and behind them to the right, singer Stephanie Mills (who was the original "Dorothy" in The Wiz) and Teddy Pendergrass (the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' frontman).
Brooke Shields & Mariel Hemingway, At An Oscars Party They Were Definitely Too Young To Attend
...That being said, Drew Barrymore was partying at Studio 54 when she was seven.
Co-Stars Brooke Shields & George Burns At A Party For Their 1979 Comedy, Just You And Me, Kid
It was a film Rogert Ebert deemed "a charming disappointment."
Rubell At The Bar Beside Truman Capote
Tony Jones, Diana Ross & Rubell At A 1978 New Year's Eve Party
Jones was, according to a 1978 issue of JET , an usher at the wedding of his cousin, Suzanne de Passe, who made Ross maid of honor. (De Passe, a Vice President at Berry Gordy's Motown Records, was instrumental in signing the Jackson 5.) When Studio 54 closed two years later, on Feb. 4, 1980, Diana Ross was there to serenade owners Rubell and Schrager with one final song.
Nearly 40 years have gone by since Studio 54 first opened its doors in 1977, but to those who knew the place best, its memory continues to burn bright.