Danceteria: Memories, Reunions and the Loss of DJ Anita Sarko

Posted on: October 26th, 2015 at 10:26 am by
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With all of this news, we have been asking many to share their Danceteria stories. We got a massive response, and here are a few of them:

Joey Arias (iconic downtown performer, currently starring in “Sisters Follies”):

I remember ALL. We had Mudd Club and Club 57, but Danceteria popped open somewhere on West 37th st. It was amazing. We performed there in a band called “Strange Party.” I loved ALL the floors. The rooftop was my favorite during the summers. We did “MERMAIDS on HEROIN” every month for a year. Celebrity guests and more. Klaus Nomi did a few shows. And yes, I remember Madonna. I thought how cute she was…but a real go-getter. Ann Magnuson and I did the ANDY & EDIE show to a packed house, and Andy [Warhol] came along with friends from Interview magazine. Andy said he loved me being him and loved Ann as Edie Sedgwick. So many stories!!!

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Bob Bert (drummer, Sonic Youth, Lydia Lunch, many others):

One time in 1983, there was a triple bill booked there of Swans and Sonic Youth on the main floor and Lydia Lunch doing a spoken word performance on a different floor. We had a $1,500 guarantee for all 3 acts which was good pay in those days. Ruth Polsky (R.I.P.), who was the promoter for the night, was drunk and paid Lydia twice for everybody. Sonic Youth used the money from that night to record the Kill Yr Idols EP.

Katy K. (performer, designer):

I remember doing a show at Congo Bills with Micki French and Myra Schiller (later backup for John Sex and Brenda Bergman). We did a few DooWop numbers. Somewhere there’s some pictures and video. I hope to find them. I also hosted a show or two with Russ Meyer superstar Kitten Natividad. I still have the invites. I remember seeing Chris Isaak and other great shows. I also took ecstasy for the first time there.

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Katy K (center). Photo: Danceteria FB page.

Charlene Martinez (worked at iconic 80s hangouts, including 103 Second Avenue):

Danceteria was one of my favorites. It was more bohemian. It was artsy. I lived to go out almost every night, there was so much performance and non-commercial music happening. So much was going on. My favorite show at Danceteria was Bauhaus. They had played right around the time The Hunger came out. [Bauhaus had a cameo in the film.] They made that movie cool.

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Announcement for Sade at Danceteria, 1983.

I also loved the “No Entiendes,” cabaret which Haoui Montaug hosted. It was Wednesday nights, and he would hand out really good prizes. I won an Evil Knievel record and an Egyptian “King Tut” tin. I saw Coati Mundi and Kid Creole. I had read about Sade in The Face and went to the 2nd Floor to see her at Danceteria, and no one was there. It was a Tuesday night. She was so cool, and it’s so weird to hear Sade in the dentist’s office now. I saw Madonna and her brother, performing on the roof. I went up to her and tried to compliment her, and she was a bitch.

I had a Grace Jones flattop, and I would sit and observe the poseurs on the 3rd floor. They didn’t like my look. Those guys liked the NJ ‘dish heads’ with the big hair. Diane Brill was really nice. There were like-minded people there.

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Lisa Ferber (artist, writer and performer):

I remember packing my bag with wine coolers and my dad’s beautiful argyle vest that I was wearing during my androgyny phase. I left the bag on one of the benches and I was shocked to find that it had been stolen. [Danceteria] was my main hangout. I also remember enjoying kamikazes there and I knew Mike the elevator guy, who wore a jacket with a Wonder Bread pattern.

Pamela J:

I LOVED Danceteria. I remember being in that endless line for the bathroom. Madonna was literally losing her lunch in front of me. She didn’t drink and it was clearly food poisoning, but given the state of everyone there, it took a while [for her] to cop to food poisoning, heh. She’d just been on stage and oh man, was she white and puking. So my claim to Danceteria fame is that I held Madonna’s hair while she was throwing up. Sadly for me, there doesn’t seem to be a book in this.

Michael A (producer):

First place a girl ever bought me a drink. Her name was Mariam, and she was hot. That’s the only thing I remember.

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Mimi W (photographer):

I think it was free for ladies on Tuesday, and a gaggle of us Parsons gals would drink a bottle of cheap wine on the street before we went in because we couldn’t afford drinks.

Laura F (performer):

Of course I remember the Debutants for a Better Society Ball, which featured Lydia Lunch and a variety of other celebutantes. The event was photographed for (and appeared in) Vanity Fair. I had a Louise Brooks bob at the time, and I wore a black fringed 20s dress. I was doing the makeup – which meant putting eyeliner on all the boys.

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Thomas M (artist):

My cousin worked there, up front (that is, just inside the front door) where people forked over money to enter. I’d join her sometimes and it took us some time to realize that, as the glass was so thick, they couldn’t hear a word we said. (Nor we them: they’d just lift a finger to indicate the number of tickets they wanted.), So, cruel youngsters as we were, we’d sit behind the mile-thick glass and discuss what we thought of each ticket buyer. She got a certain amount of time off every so often, so we’d go inside and mingle. One night, as we stood in some roped-off area, my cousin turned white and red and white again and mouthed something. I have never been able to read lips, so gauchely turned around to see what it was she was mouthing so excitedly about. I was brushing shoulders with Mick Jagger – not exactly shoulders, as he is not exactly tall, but definitely brushing nonetheless.

Debra R:

Madonna used to walk up to anyone and everyone, stick her hand out, and say, “My name’s Madonna, and I’m gonna be famous.”

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Scene shot at Danceteria from Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985.

And here are a few of our own stories:

When they filmed Desperately Seeking Susan at Danceteria, a bunch of my ex-boyfriends were in that club scene. When the movie came out, it was like a history of my ex-boyfriends.

I have a number of Madonna stories. She would constantly come up my group, asking us to go over to the DJ and beg him to play her cassette tapes. My friends and I would all look at each other whenever we saw her coming. Half of my friends would say, “oh god, there she is again, run away,” and the other half – me included – would say, “oh, that poor girl – she’s just never going to make it.” We still talk about that. I also saw her perform a very early gig in another location. People were boo-ing, and she cursed them all out and kept singing. I wasn’t that interested in her music, but admired her guts at the time because most people would have cried. Instead, she was so defiant. The boo-ing seemed to make her stronger.

I also remember that I had a crush on a guy and always saw him at Danceteria. One night, he just came over to me and pulled me into a velvet curtain that was dividing the dance floor, and wrapped us up in it and started kissing me. It was wildly romantic except that he had awful BO. Sadly, it ruined the moment for me and I could not wait to get away from him.

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