1980s Time Capsule From Famed NYC Club Danceteria Causes Bomb Scare

Construction workers unearthed fake World War II-era bomb full of "messages to the future" buried by Danceteria employees decades ago

A time capsule from a famous 1980s club incited a bomb scare in New York City's Flatiron district on Wednesday. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty

A threatening-looking object that set off a bomb scare in New York City's Flatiron District on Wednesday turned out to be a time capsule buried in 1985 by employees of the legendary New York night club Danceteria, the New York Daily News reports

The capsule – which looked like a World War II-era bomb and was purchased for $200 from an Army Navy store on 14th Street and 6th Avenue in the 1980s – was discovered by construction workers breaking ground for a foundation of a new building. The NYPD bomb squad was promptly called in and emergency service units evacuated nearby buildings and cordoned off blocks before the container was determined to be harmless.

Creating the time capsule, which contained "messages to the future," was originally the idea of Danceteria promoter Rudolph Pieper, according to former club owner John Argento. "We saw that Westinghouse had put time capsules at the World's Fairgrounds in 1939 and 1964 and thought that was a great idea," Argento told Gothamist.

Pieper and Argento got their hands on "a green, empty practice bomb" that was "about three feet high and 16 inches in diameter" and hung it in their club for three weeks. "We kept it up for people to make contributions, write letters," Argento explained. 

The object was then buried along with a sign that said "To all you Futurists, 10 feet opposite this sign is a time capsule. Please open it in 10,000 years." Argento remembered barbacks placing the fake bomb in a trench in a narrow alley near Danceteria.

Danceteria opened in midtown Manhattan before settling at its 21st Street location in 1982. It was known both for attracting famous artists and musicians and for employing them: legend has it that Sade, Keith Haring and LL Cool J all worked at the club in some capacity. Madonna is said to have aired her debut single, "Everybody," during a DJ set for the very first time at Danceteria, and she also gave her first live performance at the club

To his credit, Argento predicted that Danceteria's message to the future might fluster subsequent generations. He told the Daily News, "I kind of mentioned it as a joke back then: Someone's going to dig this up and think it's an unexploded bomb."