Radio City and the Rockettes

6 Nov

A Neon Masterpiece

It’s Christmas time again and as it approaches so do the stories about the  Radio City  and the Rockettes. There are few traditions left in our stressed-out I- phoned “get back to you” society that still resonate of a no-tech era. I must admit it has been quite a few years since I stepped into Radio City’s lobby, but the experience is still clear in my mind. Upon entering the lofty Stream-lined lobby, you are transported to a moderne Shangrila, a soaring composition of vertices punctuated with fast-moving horizontal bands. All fabricated with luxe materials of satin nickel chromium, gold leaf and wood veneer. The space glows from within with a warmth that is inexplicable as a Zen-like calm washes over your senses. You have definitely “arrived” as a young art student in the 70’s it was an epiphany of the first order. I want to design like this.


It changed my Life


 Here’s the best part, all of this grandeur was designed by a “Window man” Donald Deskey,1894-1989. Deskey was a member of the rarefied circle of industrial designers which included, Henry Dreyfuss, Walter Dorwin Teague, Norman Bel Geddes, Russel Wright, and Raymond Loewy…The men responsible for giving us the visual vocabulary of the 20th century.                                            

The Glow

 Deskey first gained note as a designer when he created window displays for the Franklin Simon Department Store in Manhattan in 1926. In the 1930s, he won the competition to design the interiors for Radio City Music Hall. In the 1940s he started the graphic design firm Donald Deskey Associates and made some of the most recognizable icons of the day. He designed the Crest toothpaste packaging, the Tide bullseye as well as a widely used New York City lamppost model. Also in 1940, he developed a decorative form of plywood which had a unique striated, or combed, look to it. It was produced under the name Weldtex and was very popular in the 1950s.[ I have a Weldtex paneled door, a prized dumpster dive ]

It just does'nt get better than this

Radio City at Christmas is a double whammy, not only do you have an interior of  epic grandeur, you have a stage show that has survived the 21st century onslaught of digital media. The 36 high kicking women date back to 1925. They were a regular act during the height of cinema presentations at the Hall, but that was to change as movie attendance waned. Lucky for us today The Christmas Spectacular has survived. This year they have revamped the show,bowing to the need for more contemporary themes, it’s the “Rockettes to the Rescue” as they cavort in a 3D multi-media video game. I’m not so thrilled with the concept, I would be content with the top hat, tail coat and cane theme, but time moves on and audiences change. I’m sure that the finale will still include the full line,kicking their hearts out.You go Girls!  keep the tradition alive and the link to a past when the Hall and the Show were the pinnacle of  live entertainment.

Can't help myself

Read about the about the new show….


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