By Jordannah Elizabeth
Photographer Bill Bernstein is known for his photographic exploration of the disco nightlife era of New York City. His glossy black and white images show the world as it once was, as many of the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) photographs predate the HIV and crack cocaine era where free spirited party goers lived in blissful excess among glamorous stars who frequented iconic clubs like Studio 54.
Studio 54 Music is presenting “never before seen photographs, taken by the legendary photographer that is well known for documenting the time and would later become Paul McCartney’s personal photographer,” states the official press release.
Bernstein said of himself that he sought to be “…an anthropologist with a camera. I’m fascinated by studying different tribes, cultures, subcultures and marginalized cultures in my world. My work in the late ’70s documents the New York City club culture of the burgeoning LGBTQ community as well as the Women’s Movement and Civil Rights Movement as they grew, strengthened and partied together on the dance floor.”
Currently, Bill Bernstein’s NFT images have gone up for auction, allowing people to purchase and collect rare gems that reveal the gritty, ultra-exciting moments in cultural history.
A number of the NFT photographs “highlights the scene at the Paradise Garage, a staple NYC dance music sanctuary from ’79-’89 which was championed by legendary African American New Yorker, Larry Levan, who would go onto influencing NYC’s scene and many DJs,” wrote Willy Soul, creative director and lead A&R at Studio 54 Music.
Larry Levin was a pioneer DJ who called his regular Saturday night parties “Saturday Mass” because of the euphoric energy of the crowds that could be compared to a spiritual connection between him and everyone on the dancefloor. “Saturday Mass” went on for a decade at Club Paradise and is known to be the groundwork and foundation of what is known as the modern dance club. Levin was ahead of his time as he created a space for Black nightclubbers, but all were welcome to enjoy the surge of primal nightlife vibrations the DJ so masterfully created.
A portion of the NFT photographs will be donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. “The Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people. We do this by organizing, advocating, creating an intentional community to heal, developing transformative leadership, and promoting our collective power,” states the organization’s mission.
Images are hosted and up for auction on Super Rare, www.superrare.com.