Thursday, May 2, 2013

Last Look Inside: Mannequins Dance Palace

The imposing front entrance of Mannequins Dance Palace on a cloudy August afternoon, about one month before the place was shuttered.  When things were slow you could walk right in the downstairs entrance but on most nights an elevator ride was required.
During the glory years of Pleasure Island the elevator would take you all the way up to the 3rd floor attic from where you had to work your way down.  In the latter years the elevator would just drop you off on the 2nd floor.  While there were two full bars up there, they were rarely ever used.
Numerous mannequins were displayed around the club.  In fact, many of them still hang from the rafters to this day awaiting their fate.  The most infamous of the mannequins were the ones that hung upside down, lowered occassionally from the ceiling, green eyes glowing.  It was eerie.  It was incredible.
A neon mannequin greeted those coming off the lift.  Installed around six months before the closing of the clubs was announced, it was a typical example of one PI hand not knowing what the other PI hand was  doing.
The famous revolving dance floor.  Not only was Mannequins jammed with ceiling and wall mounted lighting equipment but the floor itself also had a system installed that lit it from underneath!  
Typical jammed scene on the revolving dance floor.  Some evenings the dance floor revolved in one direction for hours and then would suddenly come to a brief stop, and then continue revolving in the other direction!
Since walking out of Mannequins around 2:30am on that final night, I've never been able to get back inside.  In January, 2010 a reader named PI Fan provided the Blog with two pictures taken inside the club post-closure. Apparently the side garage door was open and these were snapped.  This one shows the revolving floor still there along with the side opening for going on and off the floor.  All of us have fond memories of watching newcomers walking up to the floor and realizing for the first time that the floor was spinning!  All of us have memories of watching the uninitiated trying to get on and off without falling!
Looking in from the side garage door, a view towards the main bar where fave bartenders Bobby C and Gordo used to tend.  After nearly 5 years, we should soon know the fate of Mannequins, once voted the #1 dance club in America!

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so upset at Disney I could cry right now. This should never have happened and it's not too late to save Mannequins, Disney.

Jeff - Gainesville said...

"All of us have memories of watching the uninitiated trying to get on and off without falling!" Um, we seasoned veterans had trouble with it on occasion as well - depending on the number of LIT's that Dawn was able to produce that night.....

Brian said...

in the early years the hanging Mannequins had tiny mirrors in a pattern on them. so the light techs would put the lights on them! and yes they had the lighted up EYES! oh and they originally had 6 but one fell and broke had only 5 up later took one down put it in the DJ/TECH both.

KingBob said...

Given that nothing happened on the Island until now, all the clubs certainly could have remained open nearly 5 years longer than they did. No telling the revenue and profits lost due to those involved in the decision-making. Not only that, but with DJ's such a big part of the music scene now, there's no doubt that Mannequins and the other clubs would be packed!

Anonymous said...

"A neon mannequin greeted those coming off the lift. Installed around six months before the closing of the clubs was announced, it was a typical example of one PI hand not knowing what the other PI hand was doing." but in a earlier post someone said (can't remember who) said why would they paint and fix things just to knock down? but now you say "typical example of one PI hand not knowing what the other PI hand was doing"
so again Mannequins building will could very well come down!

just funny one of the words to prove I am not spam is "Island"

Anonymous said...

They also installed new flat panel monitors in Motion about 6 months before they closed it.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree! Do you think Disney will save Mannequins? What ever happened to the costuming budget for Mannequins? Also, who do you think in particular was behind the biggest blunder ever made at the WDW Resort?

Anonymous said...

I think the right hand didn't know what the left hand was about to do. I don't even think the left hand knew until it made that irrational and rushed bad decision to close all the clubs instead of just updating Mannequins and a small number of other select clubs as opposed to just closing them all.

Bill said...

This post made me miss Mannequins more than usual.

What always got me was how magnetic the place was. It drew you in. It made even the non-dancers among us want to dance. The line to get your wristband/stamp, the anticipation during the wait to the elevator, the eye contact with your fellow patrons inside it, the thumping of the base before the doors opened, the sudden clarity of the sound as the doors opened, the first look over the railing at the spinning floor below, heading down the stairway, the crowed eyeing each other, the familiarity of identifying regulars and their favorite spots and habits, the rush as the DJ dropped your favorite song, being in your first CO2 blast... it was ALIVE.

There's nowhere I'd rather be tonight than there, if only the Mouse would open the door.

DJMadManRay said...

Bill.... I couldn't have said it any better! Damn, I miss that place...

Anonymous said...

Bill...I DID just tear up reading your post. I was a regular from the early 90's to the closing. My last night was the week before closing because I knew I couldn't handle the very last night. I cried when Mannequins closed for rehab in 2001 for Pete's sake!! There is still no place I'd rather be tonight than Mannequins!! I will never get over it.

Brian said...

Bill I was in the same boat as you and others when I would have to wait to get on the Island!

then well I was always there early. at or about opening time! back in the days when Mannequins would open at 8pm the light and dance shows @ 9:30. the light show was close encounters of the third kind.
dance show was to phil collins in the air tonight remix.

the 1st song for many years was 1999 Prince then would be one of 3 (1) prince 1999 (2) c and c music factory everybody dance now (3) madonna in the groove?

and getting drinks from your FAV Bartender (mine was Dawn!)

in the early days closing time was 230 245ish?
Great memories Great times Great friends (that I met) and still know.

got 3 of the DJ's to make me tapes one made me a Video!

Anonymous said...

i so wish they would bring back the Club Mannequins. Its a shame that adults cant have a place to call thier own. ITs nice to get away from the kids and PI was the safest place to go. I havent been dancing since PI closed and I miss it dearly. I now own 3 of the hanging mannequins from the opening sequence that iopened the club. so this club means alot to me.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they will bring it back! We should get a petition going. That place was the best club ever and I have been to many all over the world. I am sure if they reopened just this club that it would be very popular and profitable. Bring this club back please!

Anonymous said...

I miss PI clubs and especially Mannequins desperately. I love Disney but this was a bad move and I just wish they would bring it back. So many amazing memories.

Anonymous said...

I remember going to PI when I was 17, couldn't get in anywhere, and sooo wanted to go into Mannequins. This was in 1997, when it was lined out the door. We went back in May of 2007 and it was just dead. Now this was during the week in early May, so I understand that...later in the week (maybe a Thursday?) we went back and there was a decent crowd there. The sound system was so loud! And I've been to a lot of clubs, including Europe. With the popularity of dance/EDM right now (it's all over the Top 40, DJs play to massive crowds now), Disney could have cashed in big time. But it's not like they're hurting for money...and it was a bit of a rough crowd in 2007. But the memories....great times!

KingBob said...

Thanks for sharing your memories! Yes, they're totally missing the EDM craze right now. Of course back then we just called it "techno".

Anonymous said...

We went to Disney in May 1999 for our honeymoon. We had so much fun doing the park during the day, coming home and getting all dressed up in our (JNCO's HAHAHA) and heading to Mannequins at night. We would be there all night. It was so much fun. I was 21 when we were married and the bouncers did NOT believe I was actually 21. I was so mad HAHAHA. They finally "let" me in. Then when we got on the elevator a lady said to me "I know you stole your sister's ID". I just laughed so hard. We waited for me to be 21to get married so those types of things would NOT happen. Great memories for sure!!!!

KingBob said...

Thanks for your story, Anon.

Rich Oczkowski said...

My first time there was back in 1998 where I and a college buddy went to WDW as an extra leg of a road that was meant to end in NC, LOL. We were blown away by the scope of the place. I'd partied all over NYC, LA, and Mexico a few times during vacas, etc. but this, this was TOPS. When we finally started to soak it all in, the dancers came out and performed in front of that massive light wall and pushed us further into disbelief. At the time clubbing was life, and this was truly paradise! Fast forward a few years, and my wife and I had our wedding at Disney World. Of course we ended up partying at PI and closed the night at Mannequins, dancing till we couldn't stand anymore. There was always such an awesome energy and atmosphere to this place. I hold out hope that it will be reopened someday so that we may once again feel the emotions and excitement, the anticipation and inebriation (lol).
I now have two beautiful children, and the main purpose of Disney World has evolved a bit, but every time we walk past that massive door, I can almost feel that low boom of bass and the indistinct voices of people waiting to get in.