'No Sleep' Shows The Artistic Side Of NYC Nightlife
Nightlife has always carried a less than chaste reputation, but outside of the late nights that turn into early there's a strong vein of artistic influence on New York City's historical club scene. Forbes' Shawn Setaro interviews DJ Stretch Armstrong about his collection of nightlife fliers in his new book No Sleep.This article originally appeared on Forbes
The New York City nightlife scene of the 1980s and ’90s is legendary. Even if you never set foot in the Big Apple, venues like Limelight and Tunnel, as well as names like Peter Gatien, Keith Haring, DJ Clark Kent and Funkmaster Flex still ring out.
Now, one of the top nightclub and radio DJs of that storied period, Adrian "DJ Stretch Armstrong" Bartos, has teamed with hip-hop historian Evan Auerbach to publish a book that preserves an important, frequently overlooked part of that scene: the flyers.
No Sleep: NYC Nightlife Flyers 1988-1999 captures a cross-section of flyers for everything from giant mega-clubs to underground parties. You can see the early appearances of acts like Moby, Daft Punk, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and more, who would go on to become stars. You can trace the trajectory of the important DJs and clubs of the period. And you can also see the often ad-hoc but charming design of many of the flyers. I sat down with Bartos and Auerbach to talk about their book and the business of NYC nightlife. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Shawn Setaro: You two wrote the book No Sleep: NYC Nightlife Flyers 1988‑1999.
Adrian "DJ Stretch Armstrong" Bartos: The title really should be 1988-1995, with an asterisk, and then a few from ’99. I think there is a flyer in there from ’87, actually, but who’s nitpicking?
Setaro: Why that time period?
Bartos: On the tail end of that, that’s when flyers, at least in New York, started to lose their sense of being something that was an effective way of promoting parties, and also something that had any kind of aesthetic value. By 1999, most flyers were in stacks, piled up at record shops and boutiques, and they would end up in trash cans or on the floor.
And ’88 because the seed for this book is my collection of flyers, and ’88 is when I started going out. The book starts out when I became of age when I could go out of age on my own and enter a nightclub.
Setaro: The visual styles on the flyers are so varied. Where did they come from? Was it primarily your personal collections?
Bartos: I think there are about 30 contributors. When Ev and I talked about doing the book, I was sitting on a nice collection of flyers, but certainly not enough to do a whole book. Much of the initial work was identifying people who had flyers. And of course, now that the book is out, every other person is talking about all the flyers they have.