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Roseland, RIP

by Bill Pearis

confetti rains at Lada Gaga’s Roseland farewell, 4/7/2014 (photo by @talithaanne)

Roseland this morning (photo via @sayitaintsosis)

Roseland opened in New York in 1919 and hosted icons like Count Basie in the Thirties. It relocated to its 52nd Street home (a former skating rink called Gay Blades) in the late Fifties, where a display inside touted the number of couples who’d met there and married. In the Seventies and Eighties, the spot was a disco haven; in the Nineties its 3,500-capacity crowds moshed to Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Its next occupants will be a 59-story apartment building, according to the New Yorker.

As a Manhattan native, chances are Gaga has many connections to the club, but she didn’t regale the crowd with any personal stories about transformative nights on Roseland’s famously springy dance floor (she earlier told a reporter about a Franz Ferdinand show there during her senior year of high school where she broke her nose in the pit). Instead, she stuck to her usual self-empowerment lectures (“Do you love you? Then scream!”) and spent an outsized amount of time bidding farewell to the female dancer who slithered across the stage with her for Artpop’s squelchy bisexual romp “Sexx Dreams.” – [Rolling Stone]

Lada Gaga‘s seven-show run at Roseland came to a close last night (4/7) and with it the end of one of New York City’s most famous clubs which had been in its present location since 1958.

Roseland was also home to the annual, over-the-top gay dancefest The Black Party and The Village Voice has a cover story on it, the venue and the changing face (and location) of club culture in NYC:

Pevner scouted other venues, but the Black Party not only needs a dance floor large enough to accommodate thousands of people, but also an entire weekend to install its own soundsystem and light rigs. The Saint at Large, which has held the party at Roseland for a quarter century, had a two-year option extending through 2015. “I told my lawyer to write a letter to address that we employ a staff full-time to work on this,” Pevner says, “and if you’re going to renege, here’s the settlement.” Pevner insisted that Ginsberg keep the club open at least through the third weekend in March, the one nearest the vernal equinox, which the party celebrates. According to Pevner, “They didn’t want to end with the Black Party.” So Ginsberg ended up with a win-win: Gaga gets reams of publicity and the club goes out in a blaze of glory.

Still, serious dance enthusiasts will always remember the club more for its unobstructed quarter-acre dance floor than as a midsize concert venue. Everything about Roseland was outsize, right down to its 14 coat-check windows.

More than anything, Roseland’s closing marks the most painful sign to date that New York City’s big rooms have become an endangered species. That a luxury residential space will likely replace it confirms the main culprit: an insatiable appetite for upscale housing that has transformed Manhattan, from the financial district to Harlem and beyond — what Fordham professor Mark Caldwell, author of New York Night: The Mystique and Its History, has called “galloping gentrification.”

I saw a lot of shows at Roseland, though mostly in the ’90s — Blur, and Oasis come to mind and I got to go to the Rolling Stones show there in 2002. My last visit there was for Big Audio Dynamite in 2011. I was never crazy about seeing shows there, but I always dug the classic vibe. What shows did you see there?

Roseland, you’ll be missed.

Portishead famously played their in the late 90s. I say famous because not only was it an exciting show at the time, the show was recorded for a live album and DVD. Watch the whole thing (via someone uploading it to YouTube), below…

Now watch an entire Radiohead show at Roseland.

Mastodon @ Roseland in 2012 (more by Rebecca Reed)

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