The club scene in New York was pretty crazy in the 1990's, and photographer Steve Eichner was in it, documenting moments, celebrities, and partygoers, during his work with Peter Gatien; the man behind the most popular New York clubs. Limelight, Club USA, Palladium, and Tunnel were some of these clubs with legendary nights, so check out these shots compiled from Buzzfeed.
1. Celebration at Club USA, 1993.
2. Left: Japanese singer, Nokko, performing in Club USA in 1993. Right: Rhonda Shear kissing a mask party-goer at Film Studio, in 1995.
3. Woman dancing by the crowd at New York's Webster Hall, 1993.
4. Young club-goers in Club USA, 1993.
After graduating I moved into Manhattan, and through the music scene I got drawn into the nightlife scene. It was like a moth to a flame. There was so much color and excitement and energy — it was easy to just show up with my camera and document the explosion of decadence every night. Drag queens and sexy people partying with no rules. It was also great networking, and I soon got to know everyone in NYC.
5. A bubble bath at Limelight, 1995.
6. Club USA, 1993.
7. Club USA partiers showing off their costumes, 1993.
It was everything you have seen and can imagine. From drug use to sex everywhere, I saw it all. Everyone was less guarded. It was truly about having fun. No one was doing selfies and pretending. New York was affordable, and all walks of life partied together in the clubs. Artists and bankers and celebs and drag queens and musicians and poets. The energy was flowing. There was always the unexpected. Like the time a woman climbed up on one of the go-go dancer platforms and began lactating on the crowd of bridge and tunnel kids on the dance floor. They or I never saw anything like it.
8. Leonardo DiCaprio and Dennis Hopper at the 'Red Rock West' party.
9. Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen at Planet Hollywood, 1993.
10. Joan Rivers posing with two shirtless guys at the 'Gossip' party.
11. Left: Mark Wahlberg flipping off the cameras at Club USA, 1993. Right: Amber Valletta and friend celebrating her birthday party at Palladium, 1995.
There was a club to go to every night of the week. The party never ended. The club kids dressed up and made the party. It was much more exciting. There were VIP rooms, but the whole bottle service thing did not hit yet. It was much more about how you dressed and if you were fun or not than the money. If you were in the circle, you never paid for admission or drinks. I don't think that exists today.
12. Crowd dancing at a party in Club Expo, 1995.
13. Mary J. Blige (left) and Tupac Shakur (right) partying at Club USA, 1994.
14. TLC performing at a party in New York, 1993.
15. Ice Cube at Wetlands, 1993.
I would work with the club's publicist to get photos of celebrities and events to send those out to newspapers and magazines for promotion. I was also on call, so if a celebrity showed up at 3 a.m., they would beep me and I would grab my camera and run over there. One case was in 1992 — my beeper went off at some ungodly hour. I threw on some clothes and ran down to Club USA to find Julia Roberts on the dance floor with her stylist. I walked up and took a few shots and her bodyguard ask me to stop. I did, but the club's publicist said, 'You got to take more, make sure you got it!'
So I went out and shot another, at which point the bodyguard got pissed off and physically pushed me off of the dance floor. The publicist was still not happy, so I went up to the balcony and put on my zoom lens. I shot a couple of more frames and the bodyguard spotted me and immediately started running up to get me. At the same time, Julia saw me and was shaking the finger at me and mouthing, 'Don't take one more FUCKING picture.' I escaped through a side door and out of the club.
16. NYE celebration in 1993.
17. A group of partygoers at Palladium, 1995.
Today, everyone has a camera on their phone and can document themselves for social media, which in turn makes people more image-conscious. I don't know if it's better or worse; it's just different. Back then, photography was an art and a science and it felt more special to me. I would show up with some prints from the night before and it was magical. The club kids would gather around, and I felt like I was doing something different and exciting. I got treated like a god because I had a camera and knew how to use it. Now everyone is their own photographer.