UNDATED (CBS) - In the late 1970's, disco was king and Studio 54 in New York City was its palace. Tomorrow, a collection of artwork and other items from the legendary nightclub will be auctioned off. Some of the people who worked at Studio 54 remember it as a place that was larger than life.
The year was 1977 and disco was at its zenith. New York City's Studio 54 was the world's most exclusive disco club. Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell reigned over New York City nightlife determining who was "in" and who was "out". He says, "No you're not shaved there's no way you guys are gonna get in it doesn't matter if you're not shaved listen just go home."
West Palm Beach auctioneer Rico Baca will get to relive history tomorrow when he auctions off over a thousand items of memorabilia from the late club owner's estate. From large scale artwork to complimentary drink tickets, Baca says it is Steve Rubell's "register" book that provides the most fascinating insight into how the world's most famous disco was run.
It was the strobe lit living room of the stars like Liza Minelli, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, but having a bold-face didn't' always guarantee entry. Rico says, "Look Ross plus two pay. I can't imagine Diana Ross having to pay. Maybe they were on the outs."
Before it was a discotheque, Studio 54 was an opera house. Before that it was a CBS broadcast center. Rubell hired party planner Renny Reynolds to help transform the space into disco heaven and make the stars the centerpiece. Reynolds says, "Steven would be in the disc jockey booth at two o'clock in the morning and say oh tomorrow night we're going to have a party for Elizabeth Taylor."
Reynolds first party trick? Hiring the white horse model Bianca Jagger rode in on. Salvatore Defalco says, "The next day that photograph was every cover of every newspaper around the world and it made studio 54 an instant hit."
Salvatore Defalco worked as a bartender at Studio 54. He says it wasn't just the booze that kept the party going. He says, "One of the backdrops was this huge moon and a spoon and when they came down and met the lights went off the nose lit up and the spoon lit up and that was your signal to go get high."
Drugs, or "poppers", were literally in the air. Defalco says, "Steve Rubell would buy them by the case and squash them and drop them into the ventilation system so while you were dancing you were inhaling poppers."
Denis LeMarsh says, "There was just this massive pleasure seeking that was unbridled."
Then fashion model Denis LeMarsh remembers Studio 54 not as a place of exclusion but of inclusion. He says, "If you were gay you were invited if you were black you were embraced all the walls and the barriers were breaking down."
But in 1979 Steve Rubell and Studio 54 co-owner Ian Schrager were arrested on charges of tax evasion and in 1981 the club changed hands. Defalco says, "We call it 1000 days of fame because it was 1000 days when Ian and Steven had it and those 1000 days were incredible, irreplaceable, and unforgettable."
But not quite priceless. An Andy Warhol Polaroid of Steve Rubell is expected to fetch over $5,000. Defalco says, "I just wish I had a camera in my pocket in the '70s because I'd be a millionaire."