Before iconic clubs such 12 West (1975), Paradise Garage (1977), Studio 54 (1977) or the Saint (1980) opened their doors, there was Flamingo. Although the Sanctuary (1969-72) laid claim as the first gay disco, it attracted a good number of heteros as well. By contrast, Flamingo was promoted as the first discotheque for an exclusively gay clientele; it opened on Dec. 14, 1974. It was located on the 2nd floor of a nondescript building at the corner of Houston St. and Broadway in New York's SoHo neighborhood. It closed in the winter of 1980-81 shortly after The Saint opened its doors.
Disco and its many iterations was the lifeblood of gay clubs in the 1970s/80s and for a while it even attracted a mainstream audience. But after a brief flirtation the general public rejected disco at the close of the '70s. The gay community's strong allegiance, however, never wavered; after all, it was our music to begin with. Gays embraced disco culture for the escape into fantasy it provided while straights gravitated to rock and country (and later to rap) to immerse themselves in the grim reality of their world.