'What Andy Warhol and 80s New York taught me about partying'

Andy’s Studio 54 chat with Bronson van Wyck's mom gave the future party planner ideas about who to invite
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Bronson van Wyck (right) with his mother and sister
Bronson van Wyck (right) with his mother and sister

Bronson van Wyck has partied hard, so you don’t have to. The internationally renowned events planner and author of Born to Party, Forced to Work, used to go out “eight nights a week. Purely for research purposes," he is keen to point out. 

“My fact-finding in this area began the summer after my freshman year of college, the first time I lived in New York City. I worked at a private equity firm during the day, raced home for a disco nap, and then went out. Sex shops lined Times Square, sex workers loitered on the West Side, and New York was still the City That Never Sleeps. We went everywhere: Roxy, Palladium, Tunnel, Wetlands, America, Pyramid, and Limelight.

Of course, the most important New York club of them all was Studio 54, the discotheque where lucky, compelling, regular New Yorkers mixed with the likes of Bianca Jagger and Brooke Shields.

"Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, the founders of Studio 54, created a heady mix of glamour and grit, mixing celebrity and society with glittering drag queens and downtown artists, where just getting in the door meant you were interesting,” writes van Wyck. His own parents managed to make the cut, thanks in part to Bronson’s father’s connections.

“My parents went to Studio 54 once with Steve, whose brother Don had played on the tennis circuit with Dad,” Bronson writes. “My mother spent the night in a booth with Andy Warhol, who patiently explained the difference between white pills and red pills to a girl from Arkansas.”

 

Stephen Shore: Andy Warhol, 1965-7. © Stephen Shore. As reproduced in Factory: Andy Warhol by Stephen Shore
Stephen Shore: Andy Warhol, 1965-7. © Stephen Shore. As reproduced in Factory: Andy Warhol by Stephen Shore

The lessons of that lively mix, exemplified by Andy and Mrs van Wyck’s DJ both chat, stayed with Bronson, as his career blossomed. Indeed, he was able to work with Studio 54’s co-founder, hosting Schrager’s daughter’s party sixteenth birthday party or quinceañera in 2013.

"Ian brought the famous crescent moon with a spoon sign out of storage, and we set up Studio’s trademark lighting rig in an old bank downtown," Bronson writes. “We covered the dance floor with two thousand pounds of purple glitter. Shimmering clouds of sparkling violet light billowed around the guests as they waded in to dance. Years later, I still run into people who tell me they find that purple glitter in their closet.” 

 

Born to Party Forced to Work by Bronson van Wyck
 

For more of Bronson’s tales and tips on how to party heroically, buy a copy of Born to Party, Forced to Work.  In it, the internationally acclaimed event producer shares his ideas and inspiration for ultimate and intimate celebrations. Lusciously illustrated with images from Bronson's most spectacular events, it's the perfect primer on throwing parties that are as much fun to give as they are to attend.  And if you'd like to see more of Andy Warhol and his friends get Factory: Andy Warhol by Stephen Shore.

Factory: Andy Warhol by Stephen Shore


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