In 1980, Patrick D. Pagnano photographed Brooklyn’s iconic roller skating venue Empire Rollerdrome and its legendary cast of partygoers. This astounding series of photographs, published for the first time in a monograph, captures the vibrant spirits, extraordinary styles, and sheer joys of Brooklyn roller disco at its dizzying peak.
Brooklyn’s Empire Rollerdrome opened in Crown Heights in 1941 and soon became the borough’s premier destination for recreational and competitive roller skating. But it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the celebrated rink reached iconic status by replacing its organist with a live DJ, installing a state of the art sound and light system, and renaming itself after the nationwide dance craze it had helped to originate: the Empire Roller Disco was born.
Empire introduced signature styles, including the “Brooklyn Bounce.” It also launched the careers of world-famous skaters, including Bill Butler, the “Godfather of Roller Disco,” who was hired to be Cher’s skating date at the rink following the release of her disco classic “Hell on Wheels”. It “was like a Mecca,” said “Big Bob” Clayton—who spun dance records for the crowd for more than 20 years, transforming the rink into the “Studio 54 of the roller-skating world.” “You didn’t skate unless you came to Empire,” he told the New York Times in an interview.
Patrick D. Pagnano : Empire Roller Disco
With an introduction by Miss Rosen
£28.00/ €32.00 (EU)
March 24, 2023
April 4, 2023