The late-’70s New York punk scene has been documented about as well as any era of music can be, but it’s still a rare treat to see quality film footage from that time. When video-taking cell phones were relegated to sci-fi, it wasn’t exactly easy to film your favorite concerts, but lucky for us, two women put in the work and captured some of the all-time greatest rock acts in their prime.
Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong recorded more than 300 hours of footage at CBGB, Mudd Clubb, and Danceteria, of performances by Iggy Pop, the Cramps, the Go-Go’s, and many more. Most of the tapes somehow sat untouched in a closet until New York University restored them for the Nightclubbing archive. (Get a great preview here, via Bedford and Bowery).
“We were two punk girls who lugged ridiculously heavy video equipment into clubs, always the first to arrive and the last to leave,” Armstrong said in a statement.
“I always knew that what we were seeing and documenting was historic, magic and ephemeral,” Ivers added. “When I started, Nixon was president and Toto was on the radio and believe me, THIS was not that. The archive is like sharing your beloved record collection with friends. Did you see this John Cale show when he was in a cast? How about the night when Divine and some strippers danced with the Dead Boys at three in the morning? Did you ever see Iggy Pop cover Sinatra? We did and we saved it forever. Now everyone can enjoy it.”
The Nightclubbing archive features “82 bands videotaped at 115 performances, 27-plus interviews, photographs, video art, video DJ Reels, and ephemera.” It’s all part of NYU’s Downtown Collection, which documents the SoHo and Lower East Side arts scene from the ’70s to early ’90s. Check out Iggy Pop performing the Sinatra standard “One for My Baby” at Hurrah’s up top and visit the Nightclubbing archive when it opens on October 17. It’s a way better history lesson than that upcoming CBGB movie.