The Life of the Party: Studio 54

Parties are celebrations. They mark time, talent, and lives—the past and the future. They also give form to what we call society.

The world is a stage, and the party the life upon it. The intent is a constant: to impress the guests (and the hosts) with the fun of it. The most famous party of the last half-century in America was Truman Capote’s 1966 Black and White Ball, a masterstroke of ballyhoo that was held in Kay Graham’s honor in the grand ballroom of The Plaza Hotel.

The great parties, like the ones in these pages, are the sea from which all dramas are drawn. And as these images prove, they were about celebrating culture and this life—and all the ships upon it.

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