Catacombs Nightclub Philadelphia

Logo for Catacombs Philadelphia.

The Catacombs Nightclub was a gay after hours nightclub in Philadelphia that played underground dance music which became the precursor to house music. Additionally, Catacombs was responsible for the creation of the dance music genre "Philly Classics," and as a cultural center the club was a haven for music industry professionals and artists of diverse backgrounds in the early 80's.

History - The Evolution of a Nightclub and the Creation of a New Genre of Music

Second Story, Philadelphia’s premier nightclub, was located at 12th and Walnut Streets in Center City Philadelphia. "The Story"—as it was lovingly called by the weekly regulars—was the vision of brothers Barry Geftman and Wayne Geftman.[1] The Geftman brothers’ original concept was to create a private, gay club with an environment that featured unique interiors, superior music, excellent sound, and innovative lighting. Under the banner of Disco Design, LTD., Wayne oversaw most of the creative and technical aspects of the club, while Barry deftly performed the administrative duties, including staffing and promotions. As brothers, they were able to harness a natural synergy, which was the primary key to their success.

Before Second Story was realized, Wayne and Barry had created their first nightclub, the Music Box. The club was known as the place to be at the Jersey Shore during summers in the 1970s. New York’s “Discoteckin Magazine” called it “a club worth leaving New York for.”

The sound system was designed by Rosner Custom Sound and was installed by Rosner’s lead engineer—Donald Carucci, known as an expert in the field of nightclub sound. The Music Box’s sound system was unparalleled, and Wayne and DJ Frankie “Who” Sestito frequently turned the music UP, which further cemented the club’s popularity. With the success of the Music Box at the Jersey Shore, the Geftman brothers realized that it was time to bring their concepts to Philadelphia; hence, the Second Story was born.

Second Story opened its doors on December 6, 1976, after three years of intense design. The facility was in a former church, and key elements from the original building were utilized in its interior design. Rosner designed a state-of-the-art sound system, featuring components that, at the time, were rarely used in the nightclub environment.[2] The light show was also designed with meticulous care, under Barry's close scrutiny. The club opened as a private, gay nightclub. It changed to a more mainstream format after 13 months, which led to unprecedented success and to its reputation as “Philadelphia’s Studio 54.” [3]

Although Second Story was a commercial success, Wayne’s love of music compelled him to build another club—one that featured “hardcore” dance music, then popular in after-hours gay juice bars. Later, this style of music was recognized as the precursor to house music, and Wayne's musical vision helped shape the dance genre Philly Classics.

The Geftman brothers opened Catacombs in the fall of 1978 in the basement of the 12th Street structure. The club typically opened on Saturdays at midnight, and it would not close until Sunday around noon sometimes. The first record played at Catacombs was "The Impossible Dream".

Although there has always been some confusion over who installed and designed the sound system in Catacombs, the truth is that it was the original sound system from the Music Box. Wayne updated the system by doubling the number of loudspeakers and amplifiers. Designed and installed by Donald Carucci, the modified system created a 360° field of sound, further enhanced by the club’s low ceiling. The result was a sound system with crystal-clear music, in a room without dead spots.

Catacombs earned a reputation as a nationally recognized after-hours club, and it became known for being frequented by music-industry professionals from both Philadelphia and New York. Catacombs' most significant contribution to the music industry was its creation of the dance genre Philly Classics. Catacombs closed its doors in December 1986.


Disc Jockeys

Producers / Remix Artists / Songwriters

Promoters who regularly visited Catacombs

Artists that performed at Catacombs

See also


  1., Other legendary US clubs
  2. Billboard Magazine, January 22, 1977
  3. Beasley Law Firm, Building History
  4. 1 2 3 David Todd, Discogs - Biography
  5. 1 2 Direct Current LP, Discogs - Recording Entry
  6. Gay Today article, Producer To The Divas
  7. Act Like You Know, Discogs - Recording Entry
  8. WhatEver Productions, Music Page
  9. Ray Caviano, Discogs - Biography

External links

Coordinates: 39°56′56″N 75°09′38″W / 39.94880°N 75.16048°W / 39.94880; -75.16048

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/24/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.