DJ Love Bug with Grandmaster Caz at the battle of the MCs at the Ecstasy Garage Disco in August 1980. Photo by Charlie Ahearn.
There wasn’t exactly a music scene in 1980s-era New York City, so much as countless hot spots spanning Harlem to Saint Mark’s Place to the Bronx. Of course, things aren’t what they used to be—it’s been ages since what’s now a kitschy, rock ‘n’ roll-themed John Varvatos shop replaced CBGB, the so-called birthplace of punk. In fact, this summer marks a full 40 years since the launch of MTV (the very early days of which actually bore some resemblance to TV Party, the cool kids’ public-access network of choice). The Museum of the City of New York is commemorating that anniversary with “New York, New Music: 1980-1986,” an exhibition featuring memorabilia like Bad Brains fliers, Madonna records, Keith Haring t-shirts, and a zoot suit worn by Kid Creole. But the era mostly comes alive via photographs, documenting Klaus Nomi’s performance at Hurrah, MC battles at the Ecstasy Garage Disco, and much, much, more. Step back in time with a look inside, here.