Public Hotel Hosts Studio 54 Birthday Bash

Famed entrepreneur Ian Schrager relives nightclub's heyday

By Marcus Riley
|  Thursday, Dec 27, 2012  |  Updated 11:17 AM CDT
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Gold Coast hotel celebrates its first anniversary with a rare event -- Ian Schrager brings the Studio 54 concept out of retirement for a one-night extravaganza that went down as one of the

Marcus Riley, Onasis Odelmo

Gold Coast hotel celebrates its first anniversary with a rare event -- Ian Schrager brings the Studio 54 concept out of retirement for a one-night extravaganza that went down as one of the "parties of the year."

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Most people think of the Studio 54 nightclub days as a glamorous time, but it wasn't always something co-founder Ian Schrager looked back on fondly.

The groundbreaking New York City nightclub operated from 1977-81, and attracted the likes of Mick Jagger, Diana Ross and Andy Warhol on a regular basis.

"It was a very indulgent age. It almost destroyed me," Schrager says. "There was a lot of controversy about it and I remembered more of the bad part than the good part, but over the years I started forgetting about the bad part and only remembering the good part ... my ambitions and aspirations kind of moved on from that."

Those ambitions include projects like Chicago's Public Hotel. Schrager opened the Gold Coast hot spot a year ago, including a revamp of the iconic Pump Room. He helped celebrate the 1-year anniversary with a Studio 54-themed party on Tuesday night, a glitzy disco-era affair that attracted its share of local notables such as Desiree Rogers and photographer Victor Skrebneski, along with celebs such as actor Billy Zane.

Jellybean Martinez, a DJ at the original nightclub, spun disco tunes in the Pump Room until late into the night.

But it also served as another sign that Schrager is at peace with that era.

"We can't go back to that, but we can still enjoy everything that it embodied. People still want to have fun. They want to be in a magical place where it's glamorous, and there's electricity in the air .. there's a kinetic energy of being in someplace special," Schrager said.

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