Monday, April 19, 2021

Song of the Day: 'Confusion' by New Order

If the video for "Hello Again" by the Cars was the most quintessentially mid-80s video of all time, this clip by New Order -- that follows a girl getting off work at a pizza parlor and then joining her friends for a night on the town in New York City, culminating at the legendary Fun House -- has to be the ultimate early '80s video moment!

Hardeep Phull writes of the 28,000-square-foot space that was located at 526 W. 26th St.:

At the Fun House, John “Jellybean” Benitez -- who was the resident DJ from 1981 to 1984 -- spun underground records such as “Walking on Sunshine” by Rockers Revenge and Shannon’s “Let the Music Play,” which hit the Billboard Top 40 in 1984. The DJ booth was inside the mouth of a giant, grinning clown’s head; if revelers needed a break, they could take five to play arcade games that were also inside the vast club.  

That club was where “freestyle” blossomed and found its young audience. “They were saying disco was dead, but there were still millions of people going out on the weekend and listening to dance music,” Benitez recalls.

One of the best documentations of that era is New Order’s 1983 video for their freestyle-influenced single “Confusion,” which captures the British band working on the track with dance producer Arthur Baker before heading to the famed club to play the song to revelers. As the group rolls up to the venue, it’s already dawn, but the party is still going hard inside. 

“It was very common for us to play works in progress and test them out on the crowd like that,” remembers Benitez, who is depicted in the famous DJ booth with the band, watching the crowd’s reaction.  

New Order were so enthralled by the culture of the Fun House (and several other American clubs of that era) that they, along with their label and management, attempted to re-create it with their own club — the Ha├žienda, in Manchester, England (as portrayed in the 2002 movie “24 Hour Party People”). 

While Studio 54 catered to the uptown crowd, the Fun House and its freestyle music represented the sound of the street. But sometimes A-listers would poke their heads in to see what the fuss was all about. “Paul Simon and Penny Marshall came by one night,” Benitez recalls. “Another time Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta were there, and the whole place went nuts. People were following them around the club and, eventually, they had to come up to the DJ booth!”

Enjoy this slice of NYC nightlife history ...

Read more about the Fun House HERE.

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