1978. Architect Scott Bromley leading an array of the best designers including Robin Jacbosen, Michael Shaible and Fern Mallis from NYC presents the concept of “Beach” to the Fire Island Pines Volunteer Fire Department.
Together with the local craftsman of the community they would create what had never been done…
Ron Martin, Scott Bromley, and more listen to what the Pines Volunteer Fire Department have to say about their presentation.
The Pines Fire Department get on board with the concept of “Beach.”
The now creator of Fashion week Fern Mallis and Robin Jacobsen help in the creative process…
Pierre Asselin with his design for the Party/ Benefit “Beach.”
1979. The Beach logo designed by Pierre Asselin symbolizes the beginning at sunset and the ending at sunrise of the party. The words “Beach” italicized symbolized the wind.
The party that started it all
It was time to invite…
Interior designer Michael Schaible with the yards of red, white and blue inexpensive fabric that was to be used as draping on the poles mounted throughout the set up.
Once the fabric was attached only then would then know if what they envisioned could happen..
and it did…
Lighting designers from Broadway were now lighting what would be a show no one on Fire Island had ever seen.
Carpenters, builders, and other local crafts men were working hand in hand with designers. Straight, gay were now one in a way the community could have never for seen.
Part of the original plan were the use of weather balloons. Seen here with architect Scott Bromley and partner Robin Jacobsen, due to winds the idea was discarded.
Everything was taken into account, including seating using inner tubes wrapped in gauze.
Disco singing group The Ritchie Family were part of the entertainment lineup, and took in the setup.
Architect and it’s creator become one. Scott Bromley and “Beach.”
And so it begins…sunset.
All of Fire Island came, and kept coming.
Scott Bromley and Fern Mallis celebrate.
The night’s magic takes flight.
Music by the masters DJ Jim Burgess & Howard Merrit. DJ Howard Merritt visited the Pines at 19 years old and began his life as a houseboy. His DJ start began when he created music for his birthday party. Pictured here with DJ Jim Burgess for the famous Beach 79 party, Howard says, “Jim Burgess was the best DJ of my generation. We played together at the Beach Party and this picture taken was as he turned over the platform to me, after he had opened the event.
There were many innovative things that made “Beach” different from what had been done before. One was the silent auction of items listed in a booklet. Also the casino on the beach.The Ritchie Family performs.The original performer booked Donna Summer cancels and is replaced with an unknown 16 year old canadian singer named France Joli. She performs for the first time her just recorded single “Come to me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcIXBJJeozM#t=186 She creates a sensation. The night, the song, and France create history.France Joli remembers:
“How can I begin to describe my feelings for the magical place that is Fire Island. Some of you may know my story because you were there that night. Some of you may know simply because you’ve heard about it through the years—almost as if it were some fanciful legend. But let me tell you, it’s true. And to have lived it from the stage, looking out at all of your gorgeous faces…well, it’s almost indescribable. But I’ll try.
The date was Friday, July 13, 1979. I was a 16-year-old unknown French Canadian female vocalist, and I had a newly recorded disco song relatively few people had heard. “Come to Me” had had a little bit of club play in New York City, but it hadn’t yet been released. And I had certainly never performed it live.
Long story short, I was lucky enough to be invited—at the last minute—to fill in for Donna Summer at Beach 79. I flew down to New York City from Montreal. Little did I know a ferry would be transporting me to my final destination: a moonlit venue for this midnight, seaside concert.
And little did I expect that an audience of thousands—most of them gay men; and many of them sadly long gone—would embrace me with such love so instantly. I had never ever even performed in America! That night remains both a blur and a sharp memory seared in my mind. I feel that the LGBT community and I first met that summer night. And our mutual love, respect, and admiration has endured through almost three decades. How wonderful.
I’ve returned to Fire Island, of course, most notably in 2009 for Fifty/30 the 30th anniversary of Beach 79. We and the world have changed much since we first met. Neither of us may look like we did back then, but I know that in our hearts, we feel as if that night was last night. I look forward to the next time I’m in Fire Island, because every arrival there feels like I’ve never left. And every time I bid you farewell and see you vanish in the distance behind the waves, I can’t wait to be back on your shores”.
With much love,
France Joli xxoo