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Digging Through the Archives: Dancetorium brings unseen 70s and 80s punk video into the 21st century

Courtesy of Brendan Gilmartin
Bush Tetras circa 1980 in a still from Ivers’ and Armstrong’s footage Courtesy of Brendan Gilmartin

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong were exposed to American rock n’ roll and the British Invasion at a young age.

Ivers grew up in Philadelphia and worked at an auto part factory as a teenager. In lieu of joining her coworkers for lunch, she much preferred to sneak outside and listen to her transistor radio.

Armstrong, on the other hand, grew up in Long Island, and was introduced to music by a friend’s parent who’d generously chauffeur them from rock show to rock show. With his help, Armstrong saw the Rolling Stones and the Beatles during their first U.S. tour.

“He would collect our money and drive us,” Armstrong said. “Wherever he is, I thank him.”

After meeting while working together at Manhattan’s Public Access Television, the budding videographers teamed together to record over 300 hours worth of footage that would later be digitized and shown at museums and exhibits across the country.

This Thursday, the two are showing a significant amount of footage they collected during the up-and-coming New York punk scene in the 70′s and 80′s at International House; Dancetorium screens as the centerpiece of the venue’s spring preview event.

Before they met and joined creative forces, Ivers and Armstrong coincidentally lived on the same block in New York. They were also neighbors with Patti Smith.

“We’d see Patti seeing on her stoop,” Armstrong said. “We knew her as a poet.”

It wasn’t until posters for concerts started to pop up that they realized Smith was a musician as well. With the help of these posters – which also advertised bands like Talking Heads, Blondie and more – Ivers began to take on a film project documenting this musical uprising along with coworkers at Public Access Television.

The GoNightclubbing Archive Video from GoNightclubbing,Ltd. on Vimeo.

After some time, her and her team, who called themselves Metropolis Video, didn’t see any point as to why they were filming bands – they weren’t making money, and her coworkers abandoned ship on the project. But Ivers wasn’t quite done. Continue reading →

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