Schrager and his partner set up their first nightclub, in Queens, for $27,000. The more famous Studio 54 — or is that “infamous”? — went up for $400,000.
“Now,” says Schrager, a major real estate developer, “with all the regulations, fire codes, sprinkler requirements, neighborhood issues, community planning boards . . . before you even put on the first coat of paint, you’re into it for over a million dollars. What it’s done is disenfranchise young people.”
And it’s not just disco that’s suffered. It’s worth remembering one sad side effect of all the red tape cities and states put up to new enterprises. It leaves the private sector desperate to focus on the surest forms of wealth generation, less able to serve niche markets. Like discos.
I view this as yet another example of the ongoing rapprochement between conservatism and that most fabulous of dance crazes.