Abandoned 1970s discos

Divina in Caraglio, Cuneo

As dead as disco! Inside the derelict discotheques which are haunted by the decadence of the 1970s.

These former discos were once alive with the sound of soul music, but now all the can be found within are empty dancefloors and eerily silent bars.

The abandoned remains stand as monuments to the 1970s disco scene in Italy, which gave birth to the hugely influential Italo-disco genre.

The venues in the photo series were built outside of the major cities and were forced to close when club promoters decided to focus on the urban areas.

Today, the dilapidated dance halls are occasionally brought back to life as venues for illegal raves.

Urban explorer Antonio La Grotta, 43, travelled to Piedmont, Veneto and Liguria in northern Italy in search of these peculiar artefacts of social history.

Mr La Grotta, of Torino, said: “Everything inside the disco is still and silent – the lights, the music, the people are all long gone.

“The contrast between the past and what I see now when I’m inside the club is very funny.

“It’s like everything is alive again for a short moment, just for me.”

Mr La Grotta visited and photographed Cesar Palace in Magliano Alpi, Cuneo, another club called Divina in Caraglio, Cuneo, former disco Expò in Altavilla Vicentina, Vicenza and a boat-themed club called La Nave in Varese Ligure, La Spezia.

He also ventured inside the isolated Madrugada in Porto Viro, Rovigo, a club called Maskò in Arquà Polesine, Rovigo, the grand Topkapi in Lido di Spina, Ferrara, the enormous Ultimo Impero in Airasca, Torino and Woodpecker in Milano Marittima, Cervia.

Woodpecker was forced to close in the early 1970s after the club’s domed roof trapped heat in the disco, causing the dancefloor to fill up with frogs and mosquitoes attracted by the humid climate.

The enormous dome is now home to a large mural by Italian graffiti artist Blu.

Mr La Grotta said: “These discos were built outside the city – which attracted young people coming from suburbs. It was also probably cheaper to build them away from the cities.”

The buildings have been left empty for as long as four decades and are now a magnet for wildlife, graffiti artists and vandals.

Mr La Grotta said: “The doors of the buildings have been forced open and everything has been stolen – I’m quite sure some objects have been taken as souvenirs by some nostalgic dancer.

“In Italy it is very expensive to demolish a building. That’s why buildings are still there, waiting for a buyer or for someone who rents these solitary giants to transform them in bingo halls or Chinese supermarkets before closing for good.”

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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