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Initially working in collaboration with Diego Cortez and Anya Phillips, Steve Mass opened the Mudd Club on White Street in the autumn of 1978. He sought to create a hangout for the downtown art crowd, punks, and miscellaneous others while ridiculing the ostentatiousness of the midtown discotheque Studio 54. But as the backlash against disco gathered pace during 1979 and as punks grew weary of the anti-dance outlook of pioneering venues such as CBGB, the Mudd Club became a place where the opposition between disco and punk collapsed. With Mass integrating live music, DJ-ing, immersive happenings, and underground film, the Mudd Club became a focal point for a new form of hybrid partying.

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