Against all odds - Palladium was undeniably fun. No one believed it could be hip - it was just too big, but somehow it all pulled together. I saw some great shows there: Gwen Guthrie, Kid Creole & The Coconuts, El Grand Combo, Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Joyce Sims, even Vanity 6! Sister Dimemsia DJ-ing in the Michael Todd Room. I used to wonder just how much extra insurance the club had to carry to have banks of televisions on hydraulic lifts spinning over the dancer's heads. The art instillations were incredible: the Kenny Scharf lounge (in it's original incarnation), the Keith Haring mural (finally returned to the Haring Foundation just before demolition), the Francesco Clemente frescos (fortunately saved before demolition and now in Naples), and the Basquiat panels (now in the collection of the Met). But it was the reworking of the space by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki that was the quiet champion of the club. I'll never forget that building anticipation as you walked the long arched entranceway then turned to ascend the dramatic steel staircases pulled by the thumping music.
Of particular interest to me was a vogueing style that, to my memory, was unique to the Palladium. Across the center of that cavernous dance floor, voguers would battle sitting on the shoulders of their house sisters, high above the rest of the crowd. It's were the House of Xtravaganza found a 16 year-old Jose - later to choreograph Madonna's "Vogue" and currently the Father of the House.
The club also retained from its former music hall life a labyrinth of secret back staircases that, if you were well acquainted with them, could be put to very good use. After the first year the club was open, I had stacks of those multi-colored square cards to get into the Todd room. I'm sure there are still a few of them in the pockets of old jackets.
Now if somebody could just tell me how all those parties ended...