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Private Eyes

After graduating from Pratt Institute in Bed Stuy I moved to Manhattan. My roommate and I shared a loft-style studio apartment on 19th Street in Chelsea. It was the mid 1980’s and the Chelsea neighborhood was a much different world than it is today. There was no H&M, no no Bed Bath & Beyond and no Trader Joes. There was no High Line, and no Eataly or Chelsea Piers Sports Complex. It was dirtier and grittier, and there were streets you might not walk at night. However, it was the post-disco 80’s and Chelsea offered a fabulous nightlife that included a number of famous dance clubs such as The Limelight, Tunnel, Nell’s, Danceteria, and others.

One of those clubs was Private Eyes (not to be confused with the gentleman’s club.) Private Eyes opened in 1984 at 12 West 21st street catering to the growing underground music scene. It took advantage of MTV's popularity and was designed to feature music video. Dozens of television sets were mounted around the club, and they had the equipment to transition from video to video seamlessly. The club played music by Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Pet Shop Boys, Wham and Culture Club. And drew stars including Madonna and Grace Jones.

It was the post-disco 80’s and Chelsea offered a fabulous nightlife.

Aside from the Limelight and the Palladium (on East 14th Street), Private Eyes was one of my favorite dance spots. I frequented the Cadillac Bar directly across the street from the club often and after a few slammers my friends and I would venture to Private Eyes for some late night dancing. Many would call the club a gay lounge, however my recollection was a little different. When I first started going there, certain nights were geared toward different clientele and there were certain nights specified as Boys (or Girls) Night.

I typically ventured to the club on Boys Night because all I wanted to do was dance. On Boys Night I knew I could do that without anyone hitting on me. Of course! I also knew I’d get a great dance partner, and I was commonly one of the few women dancing in a sea of beautiful men.

Later, Private Eyes became a notable gay club playing mostly house music and it eventually transitioned to The Sound Factory when it was purchased by a couple of the Sound Factory owners. The Sound Factory lived at that location for several years before moving to West 27th Street.


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