Press on the recent NYC installation,
GoNIGHTCLUBBING Video Lounge
Boasting nine libraries with five million volumes and some 7,400 daily visitors, New York University's austere Elmer Holmes Bobst Library building is also now home, of all things, to a 1980s-style rec room, located on its third floor. Furnishings include a cheap-looking home bar set, an assortment of mismatched couches and coffee tables, complete with porcelain bowls of caramels and hard candies, and a number of hulking cathode ray tube televisions. Those relics in the age of flat panel displays will play hours upon hours of musical performances by such New York downtown scene stalwarts as the Lounge Lizards, DNA and James Chance and the Contortions, mixed in with early video art, found footage and B-movie trailer reels.
These two charming women should be cast into statues for the front lawn of the “Thank God They Were Around Museum” that’s yet to be built next to the Smithsonian. In the late ’70s, Armstrong and Ivers were cable access staffers and punk rock scenesters who dragged their primitive cameras around now-famed dives of the original NYC punk era and filmed endless hours of bands, fans, weirdos, etc. They soon turned their hobby into the legendary cable access show, “Nightclubbing,” then transformed that into a groundbreaking video DJing gig at the infamous NYC club, Danceteria. But by 1982, Armstrong and Ivers packed their tapes away for years, only presenting scant showings, until finally in 2012, a great man from NYU came along to digitize it all and store it for posterity in The Downtown Collection at the Fales Library on NYU’s campus.”
On March 20, New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections debuts the “GoNightclubbing Video Lounge,” a recreation of the original Danceteria installation using 200 hours of performance footage, which has been digitally archived for the library’s collection. The multimedia exhibit includes Armstrong’s and Ivers’ original footage of pioneering punk bands playing downtown Manhattan’s famous music clubs, including Richard Hell and the Voidoids at CBGB, the Cramps at Irving Plaza and the Heartbreakers at Max’s Kansas City.
“This is an attempt, we preserved 200 hours of their video, to put the video on display as they showed it back then,” said Marvin J. Taylor, director of the Fales Library and Special Collections. “So to try and recreate the feel of experiencing it in its environment.”
“Pat and Emily documented New York’s punk rock scene better than anyone,” said Marvin J. Taylor, Head of Fales Library and Special Collections. “Their videos are of the best quality and the best bands. Danceteria was more than just a club, it was a gathering place for artists of all stripes in the exploding downtown scene. Recreating the Video Lounge at the Fales Library makes a statement about embodied archival practice, something we’re committed to with the Downtown Collection.”
"Our original Video Lounge placed viewers in the familiar coziness of a living room setting, then challenged them with unfamiliar, non-commercial content,” said Ivers. “As VJs, our programming was a mix of new music performances we had shot, a real departure from the popular sounds of disco which dominated the club scene at the time.”
‘We mixed in the work of downtown artists who had just begun exploring video as a form, as well as a potpourri of found footage that deconstructed accepted media iconography in an ironic way,” continued Armstrong. “The Video Lounge was much like today’s YouTube, with its mix of seemingly random video clips that somehow make sense to the modern media sensibility. Revisiting the Gonightclubbing Video Lounge in 2014 puts today’s viewers back on the sofas to watch content, sometimes with strangers, but in a public setting, disconnected from the singularity of their computers.”
“Ivers and Armstrong remember the real scene at CBGB better than most: They've been looking at film footage from the club's golden era for more than 30 years. As budding filmmakers, they lugged heavy videotaping equipment to New York's punk venues throughout the latter half of the Seventies, shooting sets by Iggy Pop, the Dead Boys, the Cramps, Bad Brains, Richard Hell and the Voidoids and many more.
"We're building the historic record of that time period," Armstrong tells Rolling Stone. "It's the largest collection of its kind in the world – I can say that without any concern."
“I tend to romanticize all that went on at CBGB because I couldn’t be there (not having been born yet sucks, you guys), but thanks to the work of two self-described “punk girls” who were, I can now mentally transport myself to the front row of an early Go-Go’s gig.
Luckily for everyone, the bulk of what Pat and Emily shot during those five years has been sitting in boxes in their New York City apartments for the past 30-odd years. They aired some videos from their archive on their short-lived cable TV show Nightclubbing in the ’80s and have been screening parts of it at museums and film festivals since the early ’90s, and now, a whole new generation can see for ourselves what the scene in New York was really like, notwithstanding any Hollywood fantasies: Over 300 hours of tape shot by Pat and Emily has been digitally restored by New York University’s Fales Library and preserved as the Downtown Archive. It’s all available to watch there for free; you just have to make an appointment.”
"We were two punk girls who lugged ridiculously heavy video equipment into clubs, always the first to arrive and the last to leave," Armstrong said in a statement.
"I always knew that what we were seeing and documenting was historic, magic and ephemeral," Ivers added. "When I started, Nixon was president and Toto was on the radio and believe me, THIS was not that. The archive is like sharing your beloved record collection with friends. Did you see this John Cale show when he was in a cast? How about the night when Divine and some strippers danced with the Dead Boys at three in the morning? Did you ever see Iggy Pop cover Sinatra? We did and we saved it forever. Now everyone can enjoy it." read more
“And now, after years of their films sitting in closets, the Downtown Collection at NYU – is in the process of digitizing all of Armstrong and Ivers’ “Nightclubbing” footage, and the Bobst Library at Fales has an utterly amazing installation of the fruits of this intensive labor, including personal photos and ephemera, going through the end of May.”
“The Musuem of Art and Design in New York City has curated a series titled Go Nightclubbing Archive. The archive includes footage of 82 bands in 115 performances, including the Dead Boys, Iggy Pop, the Heartbreakers, John Cale, the Cramps and more. MAD will present ten individual programs, free of charge. Approximate run time for each piece is 60 minutes, with screenings at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on scheduled dates.“
“If you're keen on bitching to your new roommate how much cooler the corner bodega was before they started selling Crest Whitestrip loosies, we recommend becoming better acquainted with primary resources on New York's Recent Past. You can do this over the next two months at the Museum of Arts and Design, where curators Emily Armstrong and Pat Ivers have unleashed a vast video trove of seminal and rare New Wave, No Wave, and Punk video from their Go Nightclubbing Archive.”
“If your ideal Friday night involves visiting a dingy downtown club, then—short of taking a time machine to the late ’70s—this video archive might be as close as you can get. Tonight the Museum of Arts & Design kicks off a series of ten films culled from the work of Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong, the rogue documentarians who chronicled the scene at CBGB, Mudd Club and Danceteria on their cable TV show Nightclubbing.”
“In 1975, public access television employees Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong began taping the punk-era scene at downtown haunts like CBGB and Danceteria, and performances by now-legendary acts including the Heartbreakers, DNA and the Cramps. It's all part of a New York University archive now, with more than 200 hours of remastered footage. This continuing series presents 10 programs-worth of the material, all for free.”