Celebrating CLUB 57 with founder Stanley Strychacki, Dany Johnson, Ande Whyland, and April Palmieri

The Segal Center celebrates the history of legendary CLUB 57. In 1978, a Polish emigré Stanley Strychacki rented a basement space of the Holy Cross Polish National Church at 57 St. Marks’ Place with an intention “to create an environment for artists so they could meet, collaborate, and create.” With founder Stanley Strychacki, Dany Johnson, Ande Whyland and April Palmieri. Moderated by Frank Hentschker. Event is co-curated by Tomek Smolarski (Polish Cultural Institute NY).

Club 57 thrived on St. Mark’s Place from 1978-1983 and offered an early platform for the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, as well as composers and musicians like Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Cyndi Lauper, and performers Ann Magnuson, Joey Arias, Wendy Wild, RuPaul, John “Lypsinka” Epperson (who started doing drag there), Dany Johnson, Fab Five Freddy, Holly Woodlawn (a Warhol superstar), Michael Musto, and April Palmieri. Dany Johnson, Ande Whyland, and April Palmieri performed regularly at the Club 57 and Pyramid as members of the all-female band, Pulsallama. Additionally, Dany appeared as a DJ at both clubs, while Ande and April documented the scene as a photographers.

Photo courtesy of Ande Whyland.


Zbigniew “Stanley” Strychacki

Zbigniew “Stanley” Strychacki was born in Piotrkow Trybunalski in 1937. He spent his youth in Klimontow, and after the war he moved with his parents to Gdansk, where he graduated from a construction technical school and worked as a construction manager. Disillusioned with the communist system, he emigrated to the United States in 1972 on the MS “Batory” ship. He began his career in the US as a salesman. Later he ran a Polish restaurant located on First Avenue in Manhattan (today there is a Korean restaurant there). In 1973 he founded a Polish cultural center – the “Renesans” club in New York’s Greenpoint. The income from concerts held there fed the Rosa Czacka School and Educational Center for Blind Children in Laski.

In 1978 Zbigniew Stanley Strychacki opened the “East Village Club” in the basement of the Polish church at 57 St. Marks Place. The club changed its name over time to “Club 57.” It was the place where Cyndi Lauper, Klaus Nomi, The Cramps, B-52s gave their first concerts, and performers RuPaul and Lypsinka performed. Installations and paintings were created by artists such as Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Every Tuesday, it hosted the weekly “Monster Movies Club,” where horror films were shown. Until it closed in 1983, the club was a place where alternative and punk culture flourished. You can also learn about its history from Zbigniew Strychacki’s website.

In 2017, the Museum of Modern Art in New York organized a temporary exhibition “Club 57 – Film, Performance and Art in the East Village, 1978-1983” dedicated to the club’s history.

Dany Johnson

DJ/Percussionist Dany Johnson got her start as resident DJ at Club 57 and went on to DJ at other iconic downtown Manhattan clubs, including the Mudd Club, Area, and the Pyramid. With Ann Magnuson, she was a founding member of Pulsallama, the all-girl percussion spectacle of the early 1980s. Dany was editor of Sister, the lesbian side of Les (Linda) Simpson’s My Comrade zine and partnered with him for the Channel 69 weekly party of the early 90s. Dany created the Dyxploitation webzine that ran from the late 90s to 2001. She was the long time stage manager of the Wigstock festival, seeing it grow from Tompkins Square to the westside piers. She still DJs for pop ups and special events like the Club 57 opening at MoMA and the Keith Haring opening at Bozar Brussels. Dany is a founding member and assistant director of Fogo Azul NYC, the 100 member all women and nonbinary samba reggae drum line. She still lives in the East Village with her wife, photographer Ande Whyland, and kitty Gigi.

Ande Whyland

For decades Ande Whyland has documented New York City’s downtown performance scene, from the stage artists, to the drag queens, to the burlesque stars and everything in between. Her lush visual record of these flourishing times in NYC benefits from her unique position both as participant and photographer. She was an early member of the legendary Club 57, a co-founder and performer with the no-wave band Pulsallama, house photographer at The Pyramid Club, coat check at Jackie 60, bartender at The Boy Bar, just to name a few. Many of the photos from her book Shots, 1980 – 1986, have been featured at MOMA, The New Museum, Bozar Museum, Tate Museum Modern, Art Forum, a BBC documentary, and numerous books, movies, magazines, and solo shows. The extremely personal vision reflected in her images brings endearing humanity to exotic artists like Wendy Wild, John Sex, Keith Haring, Ann Magnuson, and Kenny Scharf, just to name a few.

Aprili Palmieri

April is a fine artist living in Brooklyn NY and a native New Yorker. She graduated from the School of Visual with a degree in fine art. She started going to the Monster Movie Club at Club 57 in 1978 and joined the Club 57 Ladies Auxiliary of The Lower East Side. Eventually April Palmieri participated in art shows like the Keith Haring Xerox Show, performances, and created events at Club 57 including The Lamp Show with Diana Lillig and The Science Fair. She was also a member of John Sex’s rock-pop-cabaret show John Sex and the Bodacious Ta Tas and a member of Pulsallama created by Ann Magnusson which was an all female performance band that got signed by British label Y Records. Both groups had success in NYC night clubs, made recordings and performed across the USA and toured internationally. She was also a photographer at the Club 57. In 2019 her photos were included as part of the Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool UK, June through November 2019 and featured in the New York Scene/Unseen as part of the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool UK curated by Suzie Zabrowski in 2019. Her photos were also shown in a digital format at The Museum of Modern Art, from 2017 to 2018, for the exhibition: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983. Lately, she is painting in acrylic and watercolor, making still life paintings at home and stepping outside to engage in plein air sketching and painting in New York City and in Maine.

Tomek Smolarski

Tomek Smolarski is Film and Performing Arts curator at the Polish Cultural Institute New York, with over 20 years of experience in production of international cultural events and he has extensive knowledge in cultural diplomacy. He initiated and executed projects with partners all over the US such as BAM, MoMA, Film at Lincoln Center, Museum of the Moving Image, Anthology Film Archives, NYU Skirball, Abrons Arts Center, Martin E. Segal Theater Center, La Mama Theater, Joe’s Pub, RedCat, Odyssey Theater, Berkley Arts Museum and Pacific Film Archives, Chicago Cultural Center, and many others.


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