Disco fever returns in V&A’s new nightclub exhibition

Dundee’s new V&A museum is to play host to the first major exploration of the history of nightclubbing around the world.

V&A Dundee Night Fever - Xenon Dance Floor, 1979

Five decades of club culture will be celebrated in the show, Night Fever, which will featured iconic venues in New York, Paris, Turin, Berlin, London and Manchester.

It will explore how nightclub owners and operators have combined architecture and interior design with sound, light, fashion and visual effects to shape and influence pop culture as far back as the 1960s.

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Original outfits, furniture, architectural models, film footage, photography, posters and record covers will all be on going on display as part of next year’s exhibition.

Night Fever, which will open in October 2020 and run 
until February 2021, is expected to be accompanied by a number of special events in Dundee.

It will follow an ongoing exhibition on computer games and a forthcoming celebration of robots, which opens in September.

The exhibition will explore how nightclubs evolved during key periods in history, including the cultural and lifestyle revolution of the 1960s, the disco explosion of the 1970s, the New Romantic and acid house eras which shaped British music in the 1980s and the downfall of the Berlin Wall in the 1990s.

It will also examine the problems nightclubs have faced since the turn of the century, including how they have been adopted by global brands and music festivals, but have also been “pushed out of the city” in many places.

Among the famous venues it will celebrate are Electric Circus, Studio 54 in New York, The Hacienda in Manchester, Ministry of Sound in London, Berghain in Berlin and Les Bains Douches in Paris.

Developed by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany and the Adam Brussels Design Museum, the exhibition is billed as the first large-scale examination of the relationship between club culture and design.

Publicity material for the show states: “Based on extensive research and featuring many exhibits never before displayed in a museum, Night Fever brings together a wide range of material, from furniture to graphic design, architectural models to art, film and photography to fashion.

“The exhibition takes visitors through a fascinating nocturnal world that provides a vital contrast to the rules and routines of our everyday life. The multidisciplinary exhibition reveals the nightclub as much more than a dance bar or a music venue – it is an immersive environment for intense experiences.”

Sophie McKinlay, director of programmes at V&A Dundee, said: “We will shine a spotlight on a design environment with endless possibilities in Night Fever, an exhibition looking at club culture through the lens of design.”

V&A Dundee director Philip Long said: “We are developing our role as an international centre for design and we’re delighted to be working with colleagues from across the V&A and institutions internationally to bring the most ambitious exhibitions to Dundee and Scotland.”