Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.



Mondays on Memory Lane – STARBUCKS USED TO BE A NEW YORK DISCO! At the height of the disco craze, when there was a disco every few blocks in New York City, themes became the thing to separate a club from the crowd. There were circuses, mermaids, big band swing orchestras, human pin ball fists, ice skating, drag, dancing water fountains, roller skating featured in places such as planetariums, warehouses, garages, factories and even a deserted subway station.

The life span of a club was as follows:
1. Invite the gays and hope it turns into another Studio 54.
2. The straight chic crowd discovers it from their gay friends.
3. The gays leave because it isn’t “in” anymore.
4. The ‘bridge and tunnel crowd’ arrives aka Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and (god forbid) ‘Jersey’.
5. The death knell “Tito Puente Night”
6. Closed
On Thursday evening, March 26th, 1981, in a (then) deserted section of the city, at 151 East 45th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues – STARBUCKS Disco opened with great fanfare. In order to attract a gay crowd while not wanting to put off and also attract the straight crowd from the beginning, a theme was needed, so rather than leather, glitz or drag – a cowboy theme was chosen, hopefully equally appealing to both gay and straight. Opening night was a mad house.
 DANNY'S HIDEAWAY RESTAURANTDanny's Hideaway, 151 East 45st Street New York
The old Danny’s Hideaway (above)
The location itself used to be Danny’s Hideaway bar and restaurant containing four floors where newspapermen, cartoonists and magazine editors used to hang out. The new renovation turned the space into a multi-leveled disco with an identity crisis. There was a working fireplace which remained from the old bar still on the first floor. Since they were desperate to attract all crowds, there was a different atmosphere and music on four floors. A slide connected the floors so that you could fly down the chutes from floor to floor. There was a dance floor on every floor—two of which were disco (one of the dance floors was lighted from underneath ala ‘Saturday Night Fever’), one rock and the top floor was country western complete with a mechanical bull! There was DJ Jim Maxwell on the first floor and DJ Dan (pooch) Pucciarelli on the third floor. With no Studio 54 elitist door policy in place, they pretty much let anybody in since they needed to fill such a big space. $15 got you in the door with free drinks all night…yes, free drinks served in tiny plastic cups which completely littered the floor. It was also one of the very few discos that advertised on local TV stations.
What doesn’t work is to mix cowboy boot wearing, plaid shirted country music lovers with platform shoed, bell-bottomed glittery disco dancers and leather clad rockers. It was a disaster. Each floor’s music blasted the music so loud that it thumped through your chest. Imagine hearing Donna Summer, Duran Duran and Alabama blasting in one building at the same time – insane! The gays/chic Manhattan crowd wrote off the club opening night and the disco life cycle was rapidly overnight sped up to step #4 – ‘bridge & tunnel’. Eventually it turned into an after work hangout for the working class and weekends it was dead. The disco/dance crowd wanted to get dressed up and shine on the weekends, not mix with the working stiffs they were trying not to be, inevitably by 1984 Starbucks Disco closed. Today the name Starbucks is synonymous with the world wide caffeine giant it has become with over 20,891+ locations world wide, 13,280+ in the USA and 172 locations in Manhattan…so necessary for their public bathrooms we have come to seek out.   
The invitation reads as follows: “STARBUCKS is a multilevel new western restaurant, disco and cabaret. Designed by Renny Reynolds and lighting by Brian Thompson. Complete with Bucky Bronco, haylofts, hay slides, barbecue pit, waterfall, glass elevator, screening room, wood burning fireplaces, skylighted dance floors and an array of futuristic surprises.”
Invitation design by Greg Porto. Artwork by Dain Marcus

23 responses

  1. Don’t remember this AT ALL. What a hoot!

    April 17, 2013 at 1:43 am

    • hey im jim maxwell maxwell the dj providing disco music on the first 2 floors.. we did have the after work crowd but weekends couldnt have been anymore crowded . i played there for 3 years and although it wasnt studio 54. both myself and dj danny poocherelli who rocked the 3rd floor both had a huge followingfor the 2-3 thousand people on both fri and sat nights. the music couldnt have been any better. both of us have since been inducted into the legends of vinyl dj hall of fame!!!! jim maxwell : )

      August 1, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      • Jim! An honor to hear from you! I stand corrected, glad you wrote me 🙂
        Congratulations on the Vinyl DJ Hall of Fame ♫♪ !

        August 2, 2013 at 10:45 am

      • starbucks did not close because business was bad it closed on tax evasion charges. i played right to the very last night and we were packed everynight i played (thurs thru sat) MAX : )

        August 2, 2013 at 10:50 am

  2. Sorry Jim, I researched, and searched and that seemed to be the consensus. I stand corrected, thank you so much!

    August 2, 2013 at 10:52 am

  3. Sorry, follow up….I just read some more info that was written there…Starbucks closed in May 1986, not 1984.

    December 13, 2016 at 3:54 pm

  4. jerry rio

    I wrote this article. The place was a great mess. It was packed….but not with the beautiful people. Real people and some very hot ladies…and plenty of guys creeping on them. But really fun dancing on the main floor with some rocking dance dj’s


    August 21, 2017 at 12:25 am

    • Hey, I am Dan “Pooch” Pucciarelli and I was the DJ for third and fourth floor along with Jim Maxwell. I got the job there after returning from a tour of clubs in England in January 1985. Starbucks ruled 85-86 and the club was packed every Friday and Saturday. Jim Maxwell and I became good friends and to this day keep in touch. Both of us are members of “Legends of Vinyl and the DJ Hall of Fame” (legendsofvinyl.com)

      August 22, 2017 at 9:49 am

      • Joe Macaluso

        This is Mac…me & my friends Jim Kelly & Vig were regulars…Both DJs were great !

        August 22, 2017 at 5:04 pm

  5. Thank you for all your responses !

    August 22, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    • Pooch

      Is there a way to post pictures??

      August 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm

  6. Sorry no, only the actual blogger can and I am no longer blogging for years 😦

    August 25, 2017 at 11:58 am

  7. JB

    My first date with my future wife was to Starbucks. Loved the place, thank you all for the memories!

    October 28, 2017 at 5:55 pm

  8. LivinInThePast

    Anybody remember the slide they had from the top floor to the bottom?

    December 7, 2017 at 11:25 pm

  9. affiliatedhomecare

    Remember it very well. My spot every Friday night. Good times. I remember the slide very well. So much fun. The country music floor on the top floor was the quietest. There was some little hidden room with hay that couples went into to do the unmentionable. Ugg. We were exploring and found it by accident. They had idiot bouncers outside.

    January 29, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    • Pooch

      On a sad note: My friend Jim Maxwell who was the 1st floor DJ, passed away last week from heart attack. Jim was a great guy! Will be missed by many 😦

      January 29, 2018 at 2:23 pm

  10. Jeanine Hansson

    I’m so sorry to hear about Jim. I loved Starbucks. I used to go on Wednesdays and Fridays after work. It was the best club. I never wanted to leave there. The music was awesome in the whole place. I mostly stayed on the first floor but venture all around the club. I had something for everyone. I was very upset when it closed up.

    February 27, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    • Joe Mac

      Holy Sh-t ! Sorry to hear about Jimmy Maxwell…I’ll never forget him nor everyone at Starbucks! I remember the night I introduced him to the music of Gloria Esteban & the Miami Sound Machine…he’d always play George Keane/Din Daa Daa, Planet Patrol/Play at Your Own Risk, Soul Sonic Force/Planet Rock for me !

      February 27, 2019 at 5:24 pm

  11. Ira Weiss

    I used to go to this place quite a bit, sometimes two or three times a week. I first saw Michael Jackson’s Beat it for the first time on the big screen there. I loved it. I was in college at the time and I dragged everyone I knew there. Even though I lived in Brooklyn, I spent most of my time in NYC, since I went to school at Pace University Downtown. Thank goodness for the subways and the ability to park your car in many more places, than anyone remembers. Those were the days! My girlfriend at the time and I got away from her on again off again high school boyfriend. I kissed her for the first time there on the dance floor. Memories, one I will never forget.

    May 14, 2019 at 1:00 am

  12. Thomas Michael Murphy

    myself and the crew i used to run with used to go every weekend in 1986..used to be $10 before 9pm ( if my memory holds true) nothing but GREAT times…i once got admitted for 25 cents..we were online to get in talking it up with the girls behind us..the door man who checked i d”s kept yelling up the block at the line asking if anyone had a dime because he was short a dime for the payphone to call his girlfriend..everyone just ignoring him..he just kept getting louder and louder till i couldnt take it any more..i walked out of line down to him and tossed him a quarter as i turn back he has me by the arm marches me to the girl admitting people and has her stamp my hand….and walks me into club..no charge

    September 9, 2019 at 7:08 pm

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