JUNIOR VASQUEZ’S ARENA AT THE PALLADIUM NYC – FINAL RUNWAY SESSION
JUNIOR VASQUEZ’S ARENA
THE FINAL RUNWAY SESSION
Arena, held Saturday nights and Sunday mornings at the Palladium between September 1996 and September 1998, was hands down the most popular party in the New York club scene at the time, boasting marathon 12 hour sets of music by legendary DJ Junior Vasquez at the height of his career. Vasquez commemorated Arena in the titles of the remixes he produced that year. Although the promoters billed Arena as “The Gay Man’s Pleasure Dome,” the party drew an eclectic mix of gay and straight from Manhattan and far beyond, clearly represented in this video, taken at the two day long closing party.
Arena existed in the last few years before NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani went to war with NYC nightlife a year later, successfully closing several major clubs in order to attract realtors and contractors to help give New York City a more family friendly face.
After the Palladium closed in 1998 the building was sold to New York University (NYU) which demolished it, including the huge distinctive art deco mural on the facade, dating from the 1927 Academy of Music. Since 2001 NYU’s institutional style “Palladium Hall” dormitory stands on the site.
This was the final Runway session at Arena and features some NYC nightlife dance floor legends and characters like Kevin Aviance, Mother Juan Aviance, The House of Xtravaganza and a thousand others who “didn’t want to go home” even though 90% had already been there for over 24 hours.
A rare glimpse at nightclubbing runway and vougeing battles by the very people who invented them, and are rarely seen in such detail. Much of the culture has been lost with the growing global popularity of dance music, (now the biggest entertainment genre in the world) until recently. Now Ballroom culture is revered the world over, and taught to pop artists like Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez, desperate to keep up with the rising trend, both releasing ‘Ballroom’ oriented tracks. Many of Beyoncé’s most popular dance moves have been choreographed by NYC Ballroom Icons.
Even though Madonna is credited with breaking the genre, R & B vocalist Jody Watley was the first American artist to feature Vogueing in her videos. Ballroom legends like José Xtravaganza went on to tour with Madonna and can be seen in her ‘Truth or Dare’ documentary.
Malcolm McLaren‘s ‘Deep In Vogue’ and ‘Hezzapoppin” tracks predate both artists and focused on the legendary ballroom dancer, the late Willie Ninja.
McLaren’s videos also feature baseball caps with raised plexiglass letters designed by the club kid Freeze, who would later go to jail for the murder of fellow club kid Angel Melendez, along with conspirator Michael Alig.
‘Arena’ – Junior Vasquez and John Creamer
‘Icy Lake’ – Dat Oven
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