From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, nightclubs flourished around Long Island. Going out and socializing has replaced today's home streaming and online gaming. No one scanned the apps; All interactions were face to face.
Here's a look at the six clubs that defined Nassau and Suffolk nightlife, from summer classics to rock palaces and nightclubs. And even though they're all gone, the memories remain strong.
Perhaps the most famous club on Long Island is Malibu's Lido Beach, where the Greco brothers, Tony and Charlie set out to build a new-style bar.
“We were looking for the next big thing,” says co-owner Tony Greco. “Instead of building a nightclub, we wanted to create live bands and bring them into the space. Most places to see live bands on Long Island are a sit-down experience. We wanted to make danceable rock 'n' roll music.
Known as the Malibu Beach and Shore Club in the late 1950s, the building housed 2,000 people and had two residence halls. The first room on the right played dance music, while the main room on the left focused on new wave and alternative sounds. The decor is centered around a tropical theme, with palm trees, gilded statues, and dragonflies hanging from the ceiling.
"Malibu was the Taj Mahal of Long Island clubs," says Tom Polito, 53, of Babylon Village. "He was the biggest and the best."
Rhonda Weiss, a former Long Beach resident in her 60s, added, "The music they played was the soundtrack to my life in my 20s." It was a world class nightclub 15 minutes from my house. There was no such thing.
Malibu has been home to a number of legendary artists including Cyndi Lauper, the Go-Go's, David Lee Roth, Extreme, Eddie Money, Billy Idol, George Thorogood, the B-52's, Squeeze, Meat Loaf, Culture Club, John Cougar, the Ramones, Squeeze, The Knack, The Stray Cats, They Might Be Giants, Adam Ant, Smashing Pumpkins, Deborah Harry, Dream Theater, Faith No More, Anthrax, Hall & Oates and more.
On December 13, 1981, U2 finished their North American "October" tour in Malibu playing future classics like "I Will Follow" and "Out of Control".
“They were really good. It was a huge shock that they were so big. I had no idea who they were at the time,” says Tina Traina-O'Brien, 62, who grew up in Franklin Square and attended the show. "I found the charismatic singer and immediately became a fan."
When Long Beach resident Joan Jett performed her song "I Love Rock 'N Roll" in Malibu the week it topped the Billboard charts in 1982, she drew a large audience.
"There was such a commotion that the State Police closed the Meadowbrook Parkway south of the Sunrise Freeway due to traffic," Greco recalled. “The Nassau County Fire Marshal came to check on us. We were in a legal cast, but eventually Joan had to leave her show.
The late Tony Bennett also arrived on November 26, 1989 when he made a hasty entrance before Flesh for Lulu took the stage.
"It was a great time and everyone enjoyed themselves," said Polito, who was seated in the front row. "The cool part was in the New wave scene, there was no judgement."
WLIR/WDRE (92.7 FM) had dynamic ties to Malibu. In fact, every week from 9:00 to 2:00 a.m. from 1983 to 1991, the network aired "Saturday Night Dance Party" live from the club, featuring WLIR/WDRE DJ Larry "The Duck" Dunn.
"We feed off each other," Dunn says. "They needed us for publicity and offered us a dance floor and live band."
Billy Joel also filmed his Piano Man video at the club.
“They recorded it in a room we called Charlie's Piano Bar. They changed the look of a bar with the piano on stage and all the people around,” Greco said. mini-concert for everyone.He played for about an hour and sang all his songs.
BEACH REFUGE IN OAK
Those looking for a beach vibe can head along Ocean Parkway to the Oak Beach Inn, or OBI as it's commonly known, overlooking Great South Bay in Oak Beach. Customers wore t-shirts, shorts, flip flops and T-shirts. Some came by boat and anchored the boat in a hole.
"OBI was cool because there were so many places to go," says Jacelyn Sanchez, 52, of Glen Cove, who went regularly during summers in the 1990s. Was it inside, was there karaoke upstairs or were you on the terrace outside.'
The music was an overall mix of Top 40 and classic rock, with the popular house drink being the famous Long Island Iced Tea, which many believe originated there. There was also a bungee jumping challenge outside.
“People drank five beers, bungee-jumped and basically washed the sand underneath,” says Dunn, who filmed at the OBI. "It was crazy."
OBI was so popular that it expanded into three additional locations: OBI in North Smithtown, OBI in East Hampton Bays, and OBI in West Island Park. However, owner Robert W. Matherson ran into issues with local officials at the original club over noise levels and parking issues. Matherson responded with a "Get out of New York before it's too late" campaign and asked clubs to put "Save the OBI" stickers on their cars. Finally, in 1999, Matherson sold the business, left Long Island, and wrote a book called Oak Beach Inn at the Scandal: Political Corruption Against Long Island's Hottest Nightclub.
Those who head east to Hampton Bays in the summer can't forget Sunday afternoons at the Barn Boardy on Montauk Highway. This outdoor game was played under red and white streaks of moss.
"Boardy Barn was very down and dirty, filled with students dancing and singing," says Michele Diamond, who summered in the Hamptons with her friends from 1988 to 1993. "It was the last time in the world for this weekend."
He was known for singing anthems such as Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", The Village People's "YMCA", Don McLean's "American Pie", and "You Shook Me All Night Long". from AC/DC. People sang and were covered in yellow smiley stickers that served as the club's logo.
"It was a non-stop party from open to close," says former WBAB DJ Keith Fingers, who has hosted events there. "People in the tent were screaming. You went there to get drunk and smile and laugh and throw up.
Gina Bennicasa, 55, of Merrick lived in a house with a group of friends from 1986 to 1996 and during that time Barn Boardy was a regular feature in her diary.
"The whole experience was very social, but crazy," she says. "We all had Boardy Barn Special Shoe Shines because they were still dirty and soggy from beer at the end of the day."
Bennicasa and his gang also had a unique way of consuming the drink.
"We'd lay on our stomachs on the floor, put mugs of beer on it, shove it in our teeth, and drank it while people sang," she says. "It was juicy...so juicy!"
The Boardy Barn closed in 2020 and the property was sold to new owners who opened The Barnyard on the site earlier this year.
At the height of the Saturday Fever nightclub craze, Uncle Sam's opened on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, and Long Islanders were ready to dance.
"The whole world has started to become a nightclub," says co-owner Tony Greco. "People were installing lighting systems and hiring disc jockeys."
The club was decked out with red carpets, disco balls, mirrors, shiny railings and colored lights. Singers wore tuxedos and bow ties, while waiters wore tuxedo tails, black stockings, corsets, and heels. There was also a strict dress code for entry.
"People dressed up. Jeans weren't allowed. Men had to wear collared shirts and shoes," says Keith Hart, promotions manager. "The women came in in beautiful dresses with great hair and lots of makeup."
Madonna came to Uncle Sam's house on September 24, 1983 to perform a set of four songs ("Physical Attraction", "Holiday", "Everybody", "Burning Up") while promoting her debut album.
“It gathered a huge crowd. 'No one else fits in there,' Hart says. “Two weeks later he was playing venues three or four times the size. We really did it at the right time.
Traina-O'Brien went to Uncle Sam's every Saturday night in a silk dress and heels.
"Uncle Sam's was a really elegant place, beautifully designed," he says. "Once you hit the dance floor, you've been there all night."
Spit was a concept created by the owners of Uncle Sam's. On Wednesday nights, Uncle Sam's transforms into an alternative punk club.
"You walk in the back door. People thought they were going somewhere else," says Hart. "The atmosphere was against the record. We put wire mesh around the dance floor and covered everything that sparkled. The place was even given a disgusting title.
The location took on a new level of glamor with the arrival of local celebrities like Massapequa native Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats and Roosevelt-raised comedian and actor Eddie Murphy.
"Eddie Murphy would come in once a month and hang out with his entourage at the high bar in the VIP room ballroom," says Hahnzie Doodle of Massapequa Park, who worked as a waiter and bartender.
The historic moment occurred on September 16, 1981, when Duran Duran played their first North American show at the club.
“Duran were famous in the new wave scene, but they hadn't entered the mainstream yet. They were in town,” Doodle says. “I could barely get the crowd to serve drinks that night. The place was full of classy people and the enthusiasm was incredible.
The Spit had three levels with a 5,000 square foot dance floor with plenty of room to move.
"It was a cool, fresh place that mixed new wave and punk with an eclectic vibe," says Deirdre Zoeters-Murphy, 55, a former Sayville, who met her husband at the club in 1989. By the time, I was hopping on a loudspeaker. at the bar, if I lived there, I would.
As Spit grew in popularity, it expanded to Monday nights, when official auditions were held for the syndicated television show Puttin' on the Hits, where contestants lip-smacked hit songs. (The show aired locally on WPIX/11.)
“We picked a winner every week,” Hart explained. The winning tape was sent to the producers of "Puttin' on the Hits".
Derek Fowler, 59, who grew up in Lynbrook, came in second to Modern English's I Melt With You.
"I still have my trophy," says Fowler, who was tapped to dance at Club MTV after seeing them at the Spit. “I think the 80s was to us what the 50s was to our parents. We were able to dress individually and the music encouraged everyone to dance.
As the New Wave movement took off, Spize opened on Route 110 in Farmingdale. New Wave, Alternative, Industrial and Techno come together here. Participants danced with spiky hair, mohawks, and shaved heads, and wore combat boots, sleeveless turtlenecks, garters, ripped fishnets, spandex, loafers, and biker jackets.
"The crowd was subdued, but it felt foggy," says DJ Charlie Kahrs, touring Friday night.
Live bands such as Modern English, Ministry, OMD (Orchestral Manovers in the Dark), APB, Lords of the New Church and Gang of Four performed. R.E.M. played on the band's "Murmur Tour" on April 26, 1983.
In 1987 the venue underwent a makeover and changed its name to Spize II, with a black-and-white checkered dance floor covered in smoke from dry ice machines and black walls covered in graffiti.
"Spice made you who you wanted to be," says DJ Chris Grey, who was at the disco games on a Saturday night. "It was a place where you could be yourself. Punks, ghosts, goths, nerds, gays, etc…we all got along.
Due to MTV's popularity, Spize became a video dance club where DJs played a song and projected the accompanying video onto giant screens. Songs like Nitzer Ebben's "Join in the Chant" and the Sisters of Mercy's "Lucretia My Reflection" filled the dance floor.
“One night we lit a fuse and the music stopped, but the audience kept the Dead Kennedys song I was playing and sang a capella,” Kahrs explains. "It was fantastic!"
IT'S STILL AROUND ALL YEARS AFTER
Even as the clubs of yesteryear have disappeared, under the subculture banner, Manorville mobile DJ Tim Cody keeps the new wave vibe alive in various venues.
"The new wave crowd is a little older, but they still want to have fun," says Alternative Sounds' Cody. "Going out dancing on Friday night makes her week special."
In his performance, Cody often performs classics like New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle," Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," and George Kranz's "Din Daa Daa." Its purpose is to get everyone moving.
"Audiences are selective about the new stuff I play," he says. “They get stuck in habits and are constantly reminded of the good times. If you don't know a song, don't dance.
From 1998 to 2003, Cody toured at The Luxe, the club opened by Tony and Charlie Greco after Malibu closed. Here he learned to work the land.
"They knew how to run a club," Cody says. "Charlie was watching the dance floor like a hawk. There might be 900 people there and if any group left the building he would tell me in a meeting the following week. He did it to keep me busy.
These days, Cody delivers fresh waves all over Long Island. Nassau can be found at Rabbit's Foot in Hicksville on the second and fourth Fridays of the month or at Ridgewood Station in Wantagh on the fifth Friday. In Suffolk you can see Cody Gotham every third Friday at Hauppauge or Thursday nights in the fall at Eleanor's Lounge in Bohemia.
"I change my mix every week," she says. "I walk on the dance floor depending on the mood." - DAVID J. CRIBLEZ