NOSTALGIA

Webster Hall’s Most Iconic Nights: Madonna, Hillary Clinton, and a Lot of Debauchery


Photo by Getty Images.

On Saturday night, Webster Hall, the legendary concert venue in Manhattan’s East Village, played its last club night, with a set by Skrillex no less, before it closes its doors on August 10. A designated New York City historical landmark, Webster Hall was built over 130 years ago as a so-called hall for hire, but through the years played host to just about anybody who was anybody in town, from politicians in the ’40s and ’50s—and much later to a then aspiring senator named Hillary Clinton—to rock stars like Eric Clapton, U2 and Guns N’ Roses in the ’80s to debauched bacchanals, from Madonna‘s pajama party in 1995 to the club’s raucous New Year’s Eve blowouts. Along the way, many a celebrity and New York University student dropped by for a wild night in the dark. Before it’s gone forever, here’s a look back at Webster Hall’s most iconic nights through history.

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An early photo from Webster Hall. A New Year’s Eve party hosted by dancer Margarita Buencore (1938).

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Beyond the rambunctious New Year’s Parties and debauched concerts, Webster Hall has also operated as an important venue of political activity. Here, a fundraiser for Republican candidates vying for local, state and federal office in New York State convene inside Webster Hall (1958).

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Before the smoke-filled rooms and backroom power brokering, Webster Hall was an organizing hub—playing host as a haven for New York City’s buzzing political blocs. On July 17, 1945, the newspaper and mail deliverer’s union members voted to end their labor strike.

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Fast forward two decades and Webster Hall slowly shed its image as a place of political organizing. Instead, it emerged as one of the leading music venues for New Yorkers. Jefferson Airplane (pictured) performed in January, 1967, in what is dubbed as the “first psychedelic light show” to hit New York City.

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Mick Jagger, backstage at Webby in the late eighties.

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Far from its roots as a social club for New York’s political elite, Webster Hall evolved to become a haven for subversive and fringe culture. Here model Kirsten McMenamy poses during the AmFar benefit at Webster Hall in 1993.

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Mick back at it again. This time he performs with the Rolling Stones at Webster Hall in 1993.

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Madonna turned heads and broke all the rules with her 1995 Bedtime Stories performance-come-party.

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Her performance at Webster Hall became a spectacular classic. Her epic night, dubbed “Madonna’s Pajama Party” is remembered as one of the all-time great nights at Webster Hall.

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Madonna read a children’s story called ‘Miss Spider’s Tea Party’ to the assembled guests and television viewers.

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Webster Hall was also known for its coterie of celebrity guests. Here, Bret Michaels of Poison and Pamela Anderson are spotted in the crowd in October 1994.

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A topless woman dances on stage while other patrons dance during a party held inside New York City’s Webster Hall, 1993.

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Prince rehearsing before a video promo at Webster Hall in April, 2004.

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More than music: Webster Hall was the confluence of artist performance and New York’s downtown fashion elite. Here Chloe Sevingny arrives before a Duran Duran reunion concert (2003).

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“Alternative Fashion” — a democratic, makeshift fashion show for New York’s independent, young fashion designers, hosted at Webster Hall in 1996.

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The Exotic Erotic Ball, billed as the biggest in sexiest costume and lingerie party in America is held at Webster Hall (2001).

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Legendary burlesque dancer, Dita Von Teese arrives to promote the Exotic Erotic Ball at Webster Hall.

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Fetish artist Catherine D”Lish takes a bath in a giant Martini glass during the Exotic Erotic Ball at Webster Hall November 28, 2001 in New York. A tradition in San Francisco and newly launched in New York, the Ball draws those interested in erotica and role play.

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Back to politics: Hillary Clinton stumps on the trail during her 2000 bid for Senator. Here she speaks to a crowd of donors and voters at Webster Hall.

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A young Kanye West performs at Webster Hall at Webster Hall in New York City, New York, United States (2004).

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The late Chester Bennington, of Linkin Park, in concert at Webster Hall in 2007.

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Inside Wilhelmina’s NYFW: Men’s party in July 2017.

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A new generation, but it’s still the same old Webster Hall. Tyler, The Creator performs with 070 Shake in one of the last concerts in Webster Hall’s storied and illustrious history.

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After a recent change in ownership, it has been announced that Webster Hall will shutter after more than hudnred years in lower Manhattan and return in 2020 as Spectrum Hall. This month legendary musical venue closes, ending an incredible run as one of New York’s most important cultural, social, and political mainstays.