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The Club Kids were a group of young New York City dance club personalities led by Michael Alig and James St. James in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group was notable for its members' flamboyant behavior and outrageous costumes. In 1988, writer Michael Musto wrote about the Club Kids' "cult of crazy fashion and petulance": "They ... are terminally superficial, have dubious aesthetic values, and are master manipulators, exploiters, and, thank God, partiers."[1][2]

The group was also recognized as an artistic and fashion-conscious youth culture. They were a definitive force in New York City's underground club culture at the time. Several Club Kids have made long-lasting contributions to mainstream art and fashion. According to former Club Kid "Walt Paper" Cassidy, "The nightclub for me was like a laboratory, a place where you were encouraged and rewarded for experimentation."[3] However, Alig and numerous followers began heavy drug use. He began adding drug dealers to the Club Kids roster and Peter Gatien's payroll, and increasing numbers of Club Kids became addicted to drugs.[4]

The movement began to decline after Alig was arrested for the killing of his roommate and fellow Club Kid, Andre "Angel" Melendez.[5]



The group, which Alig estimates included up to "750 in the early 90s at different levels",[6] comprised (among others), its creators – Michael Alig; "Julie Jewels" and Michael Tronn, who helped organize the early "Outlaw Parties";[7] and Alig's mentor/friend/rival James St. James (born James Clark). Others were the following:

Prominent chroniclers of the Club Kids cultureEdit


Alig moved to NYC from his hometown—South Bend, Indiana—in 1984 and began hosting small events. In 1987, he supplanted Andy Warhol as a leading New York partier; in an Interview Magazine article, Alig said: "We were all going to become Warhol Superstars and move into The Factory. The funny thing was that everybody had the same idea: not to dress up but to make fun of people who dressed up. We changed our names like they did, and we dressed up in outrageously crazy outfits in order to be a satire of them—only we ended up becoming what we were satirizing."[33]

The Club Kids' aesthetic emphasized outrageousness, "fabulousness", and sex. Gender was fluid, and everything was DIY. In Musto's words: "It was a statement of individuality and sexuality which ran the gamut, and it was a form of tapping into an inner fabulousness within themselves and bringing it out."[34]

As the group's influence grew, they spread from the back rooms of lesser-known clubs to venues such as Area, Rudolf Piper's iconic Danceteria, and the Palladium. From there, Alig and his gang went on to virtually run Peter Gatien's club network, including the notorious Club USA, Palladium, Tunnel, and The Limelight, a large Chelsea club in a deconsecrated church. To draw crowds into these venues, Alig and the Club Kids began holding guerilla-style "outlaw parties", where, fully costumed and ready to party, they would hijack locations like Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, ATM vestibules, the old High Line tracks before their conversion to a park, and the New York City Subway blasting music from a boombox and dancing until the police cleared them out. Alig even "threw a party in a cardboard shantytown rented from its homeless inhabitants",[22] whom he paid with cash and crack cocaine.[7] He ensured that such events always happened in the vicinity of an actual club to which the group could decamp.[35][33] At the height of their cultural popularity, the Club Kids toured the United States (throwing parties, "certifying" those clubs for inclusion in the Club Kids network, and recruiting new members[7]), and appeared on several talk shows, including Geraldo, The Joan Rivers Show, and the Phil Donahue Show.[36][37][38]

The beginning of the movement's decline was marked by an event on Sunday, March 17, 1996, when Alig and his roommate Robert "Freeze" Riggs killed former Limelight employee and reputed drug dealer Andre "Angel" Melendez. After nine months, Alig and Riggs were arrested.[36][39] The group dissipated in the mid-1990s after Mayor Rudy Giuliani's "Quality of Life" crackdown on Manhattan's nightclubs.[34]

Depictions in art, entertainment, and mediaEdit


  • The events of Michael Alig's years as a club promoter up to his arrest are covered in James St. James's memoir, Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous but True Tale of Murder in Clubland (1999),[5] re-released with the title Party Monster after the release of the eponymous 2003 film.[40]



Greg Tanoose wrote and produced the song "What's In" with Michael Alig and DJ Keoki. The song is the most recent and modern Club Kid single. It features founder Michael Alig on vocals.

  • Alig and Melendez's friend, Screamin Rachael, wrote the song "Give Me My Freedom/Murder in Clubland" after Alig and Gitsie took a road trip to visit her in Denver, arriving five weeks after Melendez's "disappearance". The lyrics to a backwards loop in the song include such lines as, "Michael, where's Angel?", and, "Did someone just cry wolf, or is he dead?"[45][46]


Melendez's murder case has also been featured on the TV series:


  • Clubland: The Monster Pop Party (2013), a musical adaptation of St. James' book Party Monster and its 2003 eponymous film adaptation, debuted April 11, 2013 at the American Repertory Theater's Club Oberon, with book, music, and lyrics by Andrew Barret Cox [51]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Musto, Michael (March 26, 2002). "NY Mirror". Village Voice. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Doonan, Simon (August 9, 1999). "Club Kids on the Skids: The Horrid, Lovely Alig Epic". The Observer.
  3. ^ Smith, Raven, ed. (2008). Club Kids: From Speakeasies to Boombox and Beyond. London, UK: Black Dog Publishing.
  4. ^ a b c Kurtis, Bill (host) (2000). "Dancing, Drugs, and Murder". American Justice (Series 126). New York City.
  5. ^ a b St. James, James (1999). Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland (August 11, 1999 ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 2222. ISBN 0-684-85764-2.
  6. ^ Bollen, Christopher (April 19, 2010). "In a rare interview with Interview magazine, King of the Club Kids Michael Alig discusses the history of the Club Kids at length, his experiences in behind bars, his plans of life post-jail and why he thinks Lady Gaga would have been the perfect Club Kid". Interview Magazine.
  7. ^ a b c d e Bollen, Christopher (April 19, 2010). "In a rare interview with Interview magazine, King of the Club Kids Michael Alig discusses the history of the Club Kids at length, his experiences in behind bars, his plans of life post-jail and why he thinks Lady Gaga would have been the perfect Club Kid". Interview Magazine.
  8. ^ Sharkey, Alix (April 19, 1997). "Death by Decadence". The Weekend Guardian.
  9. ^ a b c "REVIEW: Glory Daze – The Life and Times of Michael Alig (2015)". World of Film Geek. December 8, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d e Graymay, Kevin (May 14, 2014). "After Prison, No After-Hours: Michael Alig, the Former King of the Club Kids, After Prison". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Musto, Michael (May 18, 2016). "'I Never Want to Stop Dressing Up': Talking to Nightlife Legend Kenny Kenny". Paper.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Turner, Megan (January 23, 2003). "The Day The Dancing Died – Catching Up With the Club Kids in True-Crime Indie". New York Post.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Bailey, Fenton (October 28, 2014). "The History of Party Monster".
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Death by Decadence". The Weekend Guardian. April 19, 1997.
  15. ^ a b c YouTube (1990), "Michael Alig NYC Club Kids on Geraldo April 17, 1990", Geraldo 1990, retrieved April 21, 2018 (Complete TV show.)
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h "What Michael Alig's Club Kids Are Doing Now". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  17. ^ O'Donnel, Kevin (December 10, 2014). "Lisa Edelstein's Life as an '80s Celebutante Revealed!". Bravo. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Fernández, Ramón (Writer and Director) (2015). Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (Crime documentary). Electric Theater Pictures.
  19. ^ Hruska, Rachelle (June 24, 2008). "Interview With Richie Rich". vimeo.
  20. ^ "Obituary: Cynthia "Gitsey" Haataja". The News-Press. January 16, 1998.
  21. ^ "Possible Trial Witness Dies". The New York Times. January 14, 1998.
  22. ^ a b Goldberg, Michelle (August 16, 1999). "Clubland Horrorcoaster (Celebutante Tell-All: 'Disco Bloodbath' is a drug epic spiked with celebrity and murder; James St. James illuminates the glamourous [sic] monsters of the club scene)".
  23. ^ Dickson, Caitlin (February 28, 2014). "The Party Monster Lives for the Applause: Michael Alig's Second Act". The Daily Beast.
  24. ^ Alig, Michael (May 12, 2014). "Club Kid killer relives bloody crime". New York Post.
  25. ^ Musto, Michael (March 26, 2002). "NY Mirror". Village Voice.
  26. ^ Nichols, James Michael (August 31, 2014). "After Dark: Meet Kenny Kenny, Visual Poet And Nightlife Icon". Huffington Post.
  27. ^ "The Stories Behind These Striking Photos Show Club Kids Are More Than Just Pretty Faces". Mic. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  28. ^ Chun, Gary C.W. (December 7, 2001). "Superstar DJ Keoki keeps the party going". Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
  29. ^ "The Party Monster Lives for the Applause; Michael Alig's Second Act". The Daily Beast. February 28, 2014.
  30. ^ Yosh (May 6, 2014). "'King of the Club Kids' out of jail after serving time for drug murder". Magnetic Magazine.[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ "Zaldy, Onetime Club Kid, Model and Costumer to Pop Stars, Returns to Fashion Week". NYTimes. September 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  32. ^ "Nelson Sullivan: Pioneering chronicler of NYC nightlife".
  33. ^ a b "The Comeback Kid: Michael Alig's Return to New York Nightlife". Thump. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Michael Musto on the Prevailing Influence of Club Kid Fashion". The FADER. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  35. ^ "Party Monster: New Michael Alig prison interview". DangerousMinds. May 8, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  36. ^ a b "Michael Alig". Interview Magazine. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  37. ^ Carrie S. (February 20, 2006), the joan rivers show – club kids interview, retrieved January 31, 2017
  38. ^ theflush (1993), "New York Club Kids on Phil Donahue talkshow", Donahue 1993, retrieved January 31, 2017 (Complete TV show.)
  39. ^ Alig, Michael (May 12, 2014). "Club Kid killer relives bloody crime". New York Post.
  40. ^ Romano, Tricia (May 9, 2014). "Michael Alig's Next Move? 'Club Kid Killer' Seeks Post-Prison Job". Billboard. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  41. ^ Andersen, John (September 23, 2011). "Review: 'Limelight'". Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  42. ^ Fernández, Ramón (Writer and Director). Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (Crime documentary). Electric Theater Pictures.
  43. ^ Murthi, Vikram (July 26, 2018). "'Glory Daze' Exclusive Trailer & Poster: Explore the Rise and Fall of Michael Alig, One of NYC's 'Club Kids', The film will be released on VOD on August 16". IndieWire.
  44. ^ Bar, Daryl (August 23, 2016). "Review – Glory Daze: The Life And Times Of Michael Alig". Battle Royale With Cheese.
  45. ^ Haden-Guest, Anthony (2015). The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night. ISBN 978-1-4976-9555-9.
  46. ^ Alig and Rachael discuss the song and its inspiration in Party Monster: The Shockumentary, starting at 41:40
  47. ^ "Becoming Angel". Investigation Discovery.
  48. ^ Stasi, Linda (July 15, 2013). "Revisiting two 'Deadly' stories that rocked NYC". New York Post.
  49. ^ Sava, Oliver (May 17, 2017). "Drag Race season 9 finally reaches excellence when the queens make TV pilots". TV Club. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  50. ^ Nichols, James Michael (May 17, 2017). "'Drag Race' Queens Explain How Club Kids Changed Drag And Fashion Forever". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  51. ^ Blank, Matthew (April 10, 2013). "PHOTO CALL: Meet the Club Kids of the New Immersive Musical Adaptation of "Party Monster" at A.R.T." Playbill.


  • St. James, James (1999). Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-85764-2.
  • Bailey, Fenton; Barbato, Randy (Directors) (1998). Party Monster: The Shockumentary (documentary film). Picture This! Entertainment.

External linksEdit