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Clubland   book icon  
by Frank Owen (2003)

read: 31 May 2005
rating: [+]
category: uncategorized

Village Voice reporter Frank Owen expands his articles on the seamy underworld of the NY club scene into one book that reads like a bunch of different articles. The book opens with Owen’s own recounting of searching and finding some Ketamine and describing the feeling of falling into a “K hole” Since this is the launching point for the book, I felt that it would be a tale of drugs and sex and power brokers, but instead it’s more a tale of law enforcement, violence and club kids turned losers. The basic gist is answering the question “What happened to the club scene in New York in the last 80s and early 90’s?” and the basic answer is “People went to jail”

The first part of the book is mainly about the rise of Peter Gatien, owner of popular NYC clubs The Limelight and The Tunnel. For a time it seemed that he could do no wrong, opening up wildly successful clubs that were rife with sex, drugs and drama. He is the subject of a targeted sting operation which is eventually his undoing. Also profiled are a mafia-identified kid from Staten Island who winds up becoming a club mogul in Miami Beach and party promoter Michael Alig who goes from being one of the most popular clubbers in the world to doing 10 to 20 for manslaughter.

Interesting? Sure, but I was looking for a different book when I picked this up and got a bit bored with the minutia of who was wearing a wire when and transcripts of the dumbest people on earth ploddingly plotting crimes. Owen clearly is not enamored of his subjects and his descriptions of their rises and minute-by-minute outlines of their falls is one of the less-charitable depictions of the club scene that I’ve read. At the end we get back to Owen and he describes years of clubbing and drug-taking and music, but very little of it makes its way into this book.

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