Bill Bernstein Last Dance exhibition

Bill Bernstein’s new show recalls the halcyon days of disco

The show focuses on the photographer’s monochrome images of 1970s New York, as he turned his lens on the musical and cultural revolution that was taking place in the city’s nightclubs

Since starting out in the 1970s, New York-based photographer Bill Bernstein has lensed everyone from Virgin founder Richard Branson to Paul McCartney (he was the musician’s personal photographer for 15 years).

One of the photographer’s most notable series came about from documenting New York nightlife in the late 70s, at a time when legendary clubs such as Paradise Garage and Studio 54 were at the forefront of a new musical phenomenon: disco.

Bill Bernstein Last Dance exhibition
Paradise Garage dance floor, 1979
Bill Bernstein Last Dance exhibition
Roller Dancer

First emerging in the early 70s, disco quickly became the sound of a new generation coming of age during the Sexual Revolution, Civil Rights, Gay Liberation, and Women’s Liberation movements. A new exhibition hosted by Defected Records label Glitterbox and curated by David Hill Gallery offers visitors a glimpse into its glory days, via Bernstein’s signature monochrome aesthetic.

Named after the photographer’s recent book, Last Dance is a collection of uplifting candids and portraits that illustrate disco’s hedonistic and euphoric spirit, including a floor to ceiling print that transports visitors to the dance floor of Paradise Garage.

Bill Bernstein Last Dance exhibition
Studio 54 and Cadillac, 1979
Bill Bernstein Last Dance exhibition
Le Clique, 1979

“‘Bill Bernstein made a conscious decision to capture the theatre that evolved through those glorious New York parties,” says Defected Records founder, Simon Dunmore.

“The dance floor was the soul of these clubs – arenas of fabulous combat, where both the marginalised and the revered felt the freedom to shine. Bernstein’s photos transport you back to that very moment shot on film, enhancing your own perception of New York’s rich cultural history.”

Bill Bernstein Last Dance exhibition
DJ Larry Levan at Paradise Garage, 1979
Bill Bernstein Last Dance exhibition
2001 Odyssey dance floor, 1979

Glitterbox Presents Last Dance is on display at Defected Records until April 29;