Debauchery in Dallas
April 30, 2009 1:12 PM   Subscribe

What do you get when you mix, unisex bathrooms, drugs, Eurotrash music and thousands of horny yuppies? From 1984 to 1989 in Dallas, TX you got The Starck Club.

A place to see (Andy Warhol, Paul Stanley, Grace Jones and Robert Plant to name a few) and be seen (having sex on the dance floor) is now the source of two separate documentaries.
posted by punkfloyd (51 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a joke, right?
posted by eggman at 1:24 PM on April 30, 2009




Texas?! Of all the places that I'd expect/want a place that sounds so gosh-darn'd fun, that'd be just about the last.
posted by Bageena at 1:26 PM on April 30, 2009


The Starck Club! My Dad did some multimedia shows (trippy video type stuff) for them. Because of that, he and his friends got to skip the line-up. My Dad said the folks in line looked incredulous when the bouncers would let him in-- he, a scruffy bearded filmmaker, didn't exactly fit the Starck Club mold.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:28 PM on April 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


this is a bad post!
posted by radiosig at 1:28 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


This explains a lot about Dallas.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 1:29 PM on April 30, 2009


this is a bad post!

Luckily it's got spectacular comments.
posted by inigo2 at 1:30 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


For as naughty as it was purported as being, it just looks downright banal and stultifying. I wasn't big on the raver scene in the early 90s, but those were much more interesting looking than these poseurs.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:31 PM on April 30, 2009


Sounds like it was a great place to snort a rail in a bathroom stall.
posted by clearly at 1:43 PM on April 30, 2009


Actually, Burhanistan, the early rave scene was pretty much all nerds and posers, and hindsight is funny looking. That video of the stark club looks like it was from 86-88ish, and, well, you remember the 80s, right? Those poseurs in goofy t-shirts and bandannas are cutting edge and positively relaxed and comfortable compared to the socially stratified landscape of the era - especially for Dallas, TX.

I remember going to raves and being more likely than not to meet scientists, engineers, computer nerds and the like, along with all of the art, music and fashion weirdos you'd expect, alongside ghetto kids and gang bangers and everything else. Heck, back around 92 or so in LA I once saw a whole gang of crips and a whole gang of bloods actually having a friendly dance off and laughing together instead of glaring and posturing at each other from across the room, or worse. (first time I ever saw a c-walk in person, too.)

The first email-based list for raves in the US was started by computer science majors at UCSD. It's still alive today, and still retains original members. And many are still nerds, though gainfully employed nerds, and they still go to and throw parties.

But that was the best thing about it. Of all the music subcultures - you can't judge someone by their cover at a rave - or at least, you used to not be able to. It's all about the inside bits that actually count - how fast are you? How dense? How fuzzy and fluffy and kind, too.

Those were heady times. And we actually owe a lot of it to the Starck club, because it helped ignite the acid house subcultures both in the US and the UK, because acid house didn't really exist before that.
posted by loquacious at 1:47 PM on April 30, 2009 [11 favorites]


Texas?! Of all the places that I'd expect/want a place that sounds so gosh-darn'd fun, that'd be just about the last.

We do keep telling you it's not all rednecks. :)

I mean, this club sounds like pretty much the opposite of my idea of a good time. But it shouldn't surprise you that a city the size of Dallas could support it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:56 PM on April 30, 2009


What do you get when you mix, unisex bathrooms, drugs, Eurotrash music and thousands of horny yuppies?

An average Saturday night at Russell Brand's place?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:59 PM on April 30, 2009


What do you get when you mix, unisex bathrooms, drugs, Eurotrash music and thousands of horny yuppies?

I totally thought the answer was a Republican National Convention. But now I see you left out closeted gay sex.
posted by nanojath at 2:03 PM on April 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


My Dad said the folks in line looked incredulous when the bouncers would let him in-- he, a scruffy bearded filmmaker, didn't exactly fit the Starck Club mold.

I loved doing this. I used to do laser shows back when even a big helium neon laser was hot shit, though now you can buy brighter laser diodes at a liquor store for a couple of bucks, and I also did t-shirts and graphics for fliers and whatnot, so a lot of the crews and promoters knew me and liked having me around because A) I was nerdy as fuck and B) I also partied like it was the end of the fucking world.

There's something to be said for being able to solder and fix an amp in the dark while you're so chemically altered you think you have more than two arms and all of your perceptional ability has gone all liquid and goopy, even more so if you insist on doing it with a balloon filled with something other than helium dangling from your mouth. Yo, I got skills like an astronaut. Deep space is no problem.

I learned early on that if I'd just show up to parties with my laser show rig and I looked like I knew where I was going I'd not only get to cut in the front of the line, but I'd also get in free, my friends would get in free, and I would also be supplied with free party favors for most of the night. And I never had a promoter kick me out. "Woah, who hired you to bring the lasers?" "No one, I just showed up." "Oh, rad. You got in for free, right?" "Yup!" "Killer. Here, you want some of this?" "Hell yeah!" "Cool, man, here's a flier for the next one! Tell 'em my name if they give you any shit and I'll make sure you get in!"

Though, for sketchier parties I also learned that a milk crate full of disposable junk wires was as equally effective if I didn't feel like risking the laser show gear or I didn't feel like working all night. "Yo, coming through. DJ needs cables."
posted by loquacious at 2:04 PM on April 30, 2009 [24 favorites]


Texas bashing: the last bastion of the MeFi scoundrel. Get over it!

I was more into the Twilight Room and Theater Gallery, but I couldn't help admire the hedonism on display during my couple of visits to Starck when I was 16-17 yrs old.

Lot's of good stuff there for a decent documentary if done well.
posted by space2k at 2:06 PM on April 30, 2009


I remember visiting the Starck Club and Deep Ellum (Trees, 2826) in the late 80s, early 90s. This L.A. boy was blown away that Texas could actually be cool for its time.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:11 PM on April 30, 2009


Three notes:

1. I am saddened and disturbed that so many of these hairstyles and dance moves have survived into 21st-century youth culture. If any of my So Cal brothers and sisters here also live amongst the great stud-belted masses of Silver Lake, you'll know what I mean.

2. Happy hardcore does not make me happy, though I must concede it IS hardcore.

3. I can't figure out whether I prefer this kind of yuppie culture, or The New Indie Humility. At least back then it was pretty easy to tell friend from foe.
posted by ford and the prefects at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2009


IS THE ANSWER GHOSTBUSTERS II TELL ME IT IS I WIN RIGHT
posted by scrump at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


The 80's weren't entirely dorky - in fact, the dorkiness was pretty much the point of the whole thing. It was a rejection of the warm fuzzy earthy humanness of the 60s and 70s.

Yeah, y'all don't be hating on Texas. You think it's hip to be hip in Manhattan or San Francisco? You gotta mean it, really mean it, to be a hipster in Texas, even today. Funny, though, I thought the Starck Club was just the way things were in those days. I was in college not too far from there, from 83 to 88. Never thought it was anything special, except maybe to the locals.

I remember reading about E in the newspaper of all places - I had literally never heard of it before. I shit you not, an hour later, my good friend called me, said he had some, would I like to give it a whirl? It was still legal in those days, which was just totally awesome.
posted by Xoebe at 2:28 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]



What do you get when you mix, unisex bathrooms, drugs, Eurotrash music and thousands of horny yuppies?


Is it Ghostbusters 2?

I'm sorry, but I had to.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:40 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aw, Scrump. Come on, man!
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:41 PM on April 30, 2009


Texas: It's Not That Bad!*

*Results may vary outside of Dallas, Austin or Houston.
posted by stavrogin at 2:46 PM on April 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


What do you get when you mix, unisex bathrooms, drugs, Eurotrash music and thousands of horny yuppies?

The script to Whit Stillman's long lost film Neu Wave.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:53 PM on April 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was in Dallas sometime around then for Siggraph. It seemed like you could hear the wind whistling through the empty office buildings.
posted by jfrancis at 2:54 PM on April 30, 2009


Texas confuses me.
posted by tula at 2:55 PM on April 30, 2009


Texas confuses me.

Texas is not some sort of homogeneous entity. More than 24 million people live there, and you will find all sorts of lifestyles and ideologies there.
posted by grouse at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]



Texas confuses me.

Texas is not some sort of homogeneous entity. More than 24 million people live there, and you will find all sorts of lifestyles and ideologies there.



Heterogenous systems of fuckupppery are pretty confusing too.
posted by lalochezia at 3:11 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Texas is not some sort of homogeneous entity. More than 24 million people live there, and you will find all sorts of lifestyles and ideologies there.

And Flatlanders so I'm already sold on Texas.
posted by nola at 3:15 PM on April 30, 2009


I'm fairly sure that was the first place and time in history where dance music and ecstasy mixed in a large crowd. Before that, it was kind of an elite thing. I can't imagine being one of the first people in the world to feel that way and not have any preparation for it or means of contextualizing it.
posted by empath at 3:39 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Texas bashing in a goddamn Starck Club thread? Fuck y'all.

It's amazing how many of us were able to sneak in that place when we were underage, though.

Dallas has always managed to have a cool underground in contrast to the $30k millionaire big-hair set, especially in those days...
posted by First Post at 3:45 PM on April 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm fairly sure that was the first place and time in history where dance music and ecstasy mixed in a large crowd.

At the time, Dallas was the center of the ecstasy world, thanks to enterprising folks at SMU and elsewhere.

This was even after the days when it was legal and they sold it in jars at the front of the Deep Ellum clubs.
posted by First Post at 3:47 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Argh. Are they already starting publicity for Iron Man 2?
posted by ooga_booga at 3:50 PM on April 30, 2009


Texas?! Of all the places that I'd expect/want a place that sounds so gosh-darn'd fun, that'd be just about the last.

Texas confuses me.


Oh come on people. Obviously there are going to be all kinds of subcultures, etc anywhere. You can probably find lots of republicans and biblethumpers in S.F. and NY.

Ecstasy really got it's start in Dallas, basically by coincidence.
posted by delmoi at 4:04 PM on April 30, 2009


Okay, can we please end the Texas vs. anti-Texas argument? It's tedious and stupid.

I'm a lot more interested in late-80s x-fueled hedonism than somebody's batshit regional rivalries.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:12 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


And for the record, the mid-90s St. Louis rave scene was PLENTY wild, and this is in St. Louis -- a city several of my friends don't even believe exists.

I've found that the spirit of the rave scene still lives on amongst Burners. You go to a Burner party and it's a lot like a mid-90s rave, only the people know how to handle their drugs, you don't get the teenage glowstick contingent, and the party doesn't get broken up by the cops at 1AM.

Too bad that I've come to hate dance parties and don't do drugs anymore. I really coulda used something like that 15 years ago.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:23 PM on April 30, 2009


Did somebody say dorky?
posted by katillathehun at 4:27 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those clips of the dance floor look like my private version of Hell. Gah. I might very well sprout claws and burrow through people just to get out.
posted by adipocere at 4:32 PM on April 30, 2009


Texas bashing in a goddamn Starck Club thread? Fuck y'all.

See, this is why we haven't actually helped Texas along in seceding yet. There's some pretty cool people and stuff trapped there. We're just still working on the evacuation plans, but so far we've had good migration rates to well established re-education camps like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco as well as points east like NYC, Boston, and more.

We might not be able to save The Alamo (Drafthouse) or even Stubb's, but we've got a bunch of stuff like it so don't panic. And you can get Shiner Bock and Tito's out here, and even I know how to make Frito Pie. Relocating Eeyore's Birthday, Burning Flipside and the Black Rock Rangers is proving to be tricky, but stand by. There are agents in the field in your neighborhood assessing the situation.
posted by loquacious at 4:40 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how many of us were able to sneak in that place when we were underage, though.

Bing! I think I still have an old Stark club t-shirt hidden away with the picture of the Stark designed chairs.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:18 PM on April 30, 2009


Argh. Are they already starting publicity for Iron Man 2?

No. Is it Ghostbusters 2?
posted by ericb at 5:24 PM on April 30, 2009


I've found that the spirit of the rave scene still lives on amongst Burners.

This is largely because most burners are entirely new to GOOD electronic music. It's been fascinating to watch over the past six or seven years as burners started to remerge with the electronic music scene. I'm not exactly sure why there was such a huge division, but it was certainly there.

For a while it was horribly painful, since they only knew about epic trance (sorry empath ;)). But now that house and breaks and glitch are getting a better foothold, it's so nice to have the creativity and energy of the burner crowd mingling with the burned out and cynical (ex)ravers. It's even helping me feel less jaded, enough so that I'm buying new music and playing out again...
posted by flaterik at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2009


Gosh, is there no one here on Mefi who was there at that magic moment in Texas?

I was in Florida, but I read about what was going on. This is pre-Morph's Outpost on the Digital Frontier but in hindsight it was that sort of feel to the writing. Definitely pre-internet, but something was happening. The writing foretold.

"X clubs" were opening all over Texas. Regular ordinary people were doing ecstasy. Imagine all the hung-up thoughts about Texas and the people of Texas. Now put that on ecstasy. Legally. No guilt, no hang-ups. Only wanting to dance and hug everyone. All bets were off.

Think about it. Normally uptight and possibly bigoted or even self-proclaimed rednecks, had their inhibitions relaxed. Everything got lovely. And dancing suddenly made really good sense.

Of course, it had to end. But for one magic moment in Texas in the early-'80s, nightlife became amazing, and Texas became one of the most interesting places on earth.
posted by humannaire at 6:02 PM on April 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Texas?! Of all the places that I'd expect/want a place that sounds so gosh-darn'd fun, that'd be just about the last.

Texas is home to the Butthole Surfers.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:41 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


hey douchebags.

please shut up.
we like it as it is.
posted by phoffmann at 9:16 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


keep it quiet
posted by phoffmann at 9:17 PM on April 30, 2009


All right. Anything else you'd like to add, phoffman?
posted by katillathehun at 9:57 PM on April 30, 2009


Wow, what an odd thread.

Never knew Texas was where the Ecstasy thing first took off, but then I was busy being born around that time.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:49 PM on April 30, 2009


Think Dubya ever rolled?
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 11:04 PM on April 30, 2009


But, should I mess with Texas?

I know it's litter. I'm just f'ing aroud. Longhorns. Woo.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:04 AM on May 1, 2009


Oh yeah, good times! I preferred Club Clearview and acid.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 5:23 PM on May 1, 2009


humannaire said: Gosh, is there no one here on Mefi who was there at that magic moment in Texas?

Oh, the stories I could tell about the Starck. Best coke in the city, and Rod, bless his heart, had an open invite to our parties, and we had an open invite to Starck. (Besides, the lines were for SMUsers and tourists. Well...the lines *outside*.)

But truly, 2826 had better booze, Industry had better drugs, and Studio D had a logarithmically better punk scene. Twilight Room and Theatre Gallery had amazing live shows.

We had a warehouse in Deep Ellum in the early 80s, when it was a ghost town. For a few years it was an amazing place. It's sad that it's returning to a ghost town, but these things go in cycles.

We would have parties in our space where there'd be 500-600 people. Some of the most amazing people in the world cycled through there. Random band performances would just materialize out of nowhere. The DJ would be going, and suddenly there'd be a thrash band rocking, and band members would cycle out as people would get up there and it would switch to trance, or punk, and goth, it was magic. It really was. The X flowed like pixie stix, the green cloud looked like the Rastas were sending smoke signals to the 4th floor, and I think we always ended up with more booze there than we started with. And we never bought a damn thing, we just opened the space, plugged in the sound system, told a few people when it would start, and like magic, hundreds of people would be there. My god, those were some fun years. I used to line the walls with butcher paper and leave crayons and markers and paint everywhere. I still have tubes and tubes of the art that was created by consensus.

Eventually the scene got weird, the cops got hostile, the drugs became felonies, and I headed to Europe for a while before moving back to Austin as a slacker in black. I didn't come back to Dallas (except to visit) for another 10 years or so, and I was astounded at how many of that crowd were still here, still flying the freak flag. Dallas is significantly more hard-core counterculture than people have ever given it credit for being.

Now that the trendies and new money are being frightened away from Deep Ellum, the $100 a plate restaurants are closing, and the millionaires are losing the warehouses they turned into gated enclaves, maybe Deep Ellum will be allowed to return to a ghost town.

Maybe someone else will have the same opportunity I had to buy something for pennies and be there to witness the epicenter of a movement. Maybe the artists will come back. Maybe the music will return. Maybe a whole new generation can define themselves in it's gritty streets. I certainly hope so.
posted by dejah420 at 7:59 PM on May 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


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