Girard's was a Baltimore night club open from the 1970s - 1980s.
Please note that in the interest of fairness, the names of DJs and staff are listed in alphabetical order.
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I was hired for Security a couple of weeks after Girard's opened. Owner Jerry Herling and Ken Wiener made me Chief of Security just three (3) weeks later. I loved going to work there as it was like walking into paradise each night there. I totally enjoyed the people I worked there with. I've always wanted to get a Girard's Reunion together of all who worked there.
The music was great and that is great times I will never ever forget.
I was one of the chefs who worked at Girards when it first opened. It was like being in New York or Europe - thie likes of which Baltimore had ever seen. During the first few months we hosted the who's who of screen, music, athletic and politics. Girard's was years ahead of its time in decor and the designers of Studio 54 were consultants on it's development. Over the years as the disco craze passed Girard's hosted national talent and was still a wonderful place to hear some amazing musicians. I visited the site shortly after the fire and it was erie to see what once was such a magnificent facility covered in ice. Such a sad ending for many amazing memories.
On my first visit to Girard's I seen all that green decor and I fell in love with the place. It was beautiful and the music was pumping. I remember bumping into the drop lights a few times. I met my husband at Girard's.
P.S; Regarding Mark Thomas' comment about "the lights would drop from the ceiling to the dance floor". First and foremost, Mark Thomas is a reknowned DJ who played in residence at The Hippo in Baltimore, at Moon Shadow in New York, and the legendary SAINT in NYC among many other clubs and still pays to this day. I had the pleasure of working with Mark at The Hippo and several other clubs.
Regarding Girard's mechanized and "flying" lighting effects... The rear wall of Girard's dance floor consisted of 2 story tall, perforated, chrome plated metal panels that were back lit in 3 colors and forward lit in 3 colors. In front of that wall, were 2 roller bars that dropped 6" wide camel colored, canvas "tape drops". The first roller blocked the rear lighting by 50%, and the 2nd blocked it by 100% to receive the forward, 3 color lighting.
The other mechanized effect was the police beacons which were always in white, although they could have had their clear domes swapped out for a fire red or police blue. They had a traveling distance of about 6 or 8 feet. I can't remember if they were on one or two circuits for a forward and rear beacon drop.
The next and most primary effect was the "chase poles". At Studio 54 in NYC, these raised and lowered vertically and had the police beacons at the bottom of them. At Girard's, these flew to and from the ceiling at an angle. Their were 3 forward poles, and 3 rear poles. The forward and rear poles had 2 motor controls so that one group could be operated separately from the other. They consisted of 2, 16 circuit lights that had (I believe) 16 pattern options. they were typically colored in teal blue on one side, and orange on the other. For holidays, like Christmas, they would be changed to red and green, or for July 4th, red and blue, etc.
One of the most memorable songs that these mechanized effects would be flown in a crazy choreographed routine, was for Linda Clifford's disco version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water.". At the beginning of the song the poles would fly down, as would the other effects to create an enclosed and embracing atmosphere. During the uplifting gospel like setting, the rear canvas drops would raise to expose the blue, sky light back ground lighting. When she sings the lyrics (for the second time), "sail on silver bird" the silver metal (chase) lighting poles would be dosed with the dry ice fog effect. I remember DJ Neci would encorporate the sound effect of a jet engine plane taking off at that most critical disco frenzied moment, and the poles would begin to fly, and the people would begin to scream, and as they flew upward and onward the music got down and dirty as the dancers were left to wild abandone (and their own devices) in the 2 story chamber of multi-colored fog. To follow this song, Dan Hartman's "Vertigo" would often be played and the flight of fantasy would continue.
During the Spring and Summer of 1978, I remember walking by it during the building's renovation and seeing the blueprints spread out on a drafting table through the large plate glass window walls. In July or August of 1978, I began working there as a bus boy in the cocktail lounge, then in the dining room, and finally became a "Light Man" in the DJ booth. The DJ's at the time were Vince Michaels from DC, and Glenn Christianson. I soon became the Senior Light Man and worked on the primary nights which were Wednesdays (Members' Night), Friday (Ladies Night), and especially Saturdays. Grace Jones was one of the earliest "name" acts to perform there (delayed show time, issues and all). Correy Day, from Dr Savannah Original Buzzard Band performed there and became a regular, complete with her Cocker Spaniel dog in tow.
During my time there, celebrities who were performing at the Mechanic Theatre often showed up for post show cocktails, dinner, and then dancing. I met Deborah Kerr, Carol Channing, and Liberace among others who stood by my side in the balcony located DJ booth.
The light show was (in fact) designed by Jules Fisher who did Studio 54's show and it had similar lighting fixtures and elements. The sound system was by Paul Marantz. The owners of Girard's, Jerry Herling and Ken Wiener, were so protective of the design that they taped over the designer's name plaque on the lighting console so envious club owners could not see it! I still have the light board's control panel sketch and details, and remember the equipment and effects very well, includine the dry ice fog machines and styrofoam snow effect. Also, I have the club's news letters and the Baltimore magazine's stories on the club, naming it the best disco in Baltimore, although, The Hippo had the best sound system.
As the years moved own, disco became "yesterdays news" and rock bands began playing there. Girard's hey days were from it's opening until the very early 1980's. In 1980, they fell into a contractual dispute with the Fisher company that designed the light show and found it very difficult for an outside technician to maintain and repair. Lawsuits followed, the music-of-choice changed, the novelty of disco and spandex wore off, and things beagn to go down hill. I left Girard's in 1980 due to frustration with the malfunctioning light show and two weeks later I began working at The Hippo where I stayed until 1984. after that, I moved on to Cignel, then TRACKS DC, The Edge & Wet, The Point, Halo, TOWN Danceboutique and finally the DC Eagle before leaving DC in Nov' 2011.
I am an archivist of sorts and still have my design files from all of these businesses.
I hope that this enlightened you and your readers and that it was of some informative value.
Sincerely, Jesse, Wilydesigns@gmail.com (feel free to contact me)
I remember dancing the night away to Donna Summer's Last Dance & they would drop the lights from the ceiling to the dance floor. WOW!! One of the best clubs Baltimore ever had.
The Baltimore Sun has some photos of Girard's Disco http://baltimoresun.imagefortress.com/search/asset_details/1066425?page=1&per_page=20&query=disco&results_index=14
Girard’s was said to have been built and owned by the same folks who created Studio 54 in NY.
Girard's Disco fire happened in Mount Vernon on the day after Christmas in 1985.
There was Girard's Disco Baltimore, Mount Vernon area