Rudolf Piper: My Mentor by Steve Lewis

Conspicuously missing from the Danceteria and Dancealladium reunion events was Rudolf Piper. The maestro, commander, ruler of the roost, the Pied Piper of clubs from an era still celebrating, now resides in Brazil. There, he’s having more fun than’s legal here. It was Rudolf who broke it all for me. I threw my first event at Max’s Kansas City for Vera Ramone, Dee Dee’s wife, and I got the bug. It must be an addiction, as 30 years later I still need nightlife to get me through the day. I brought my talents, desires, and addictions to Rudolf, who pushed me towards my life of night. So if you were looking for someone to blame, here’s your guy. If you think I’m bad, Rudolf is worse—or at least, he’s as caught up in the maelstrom of nightlife as I, or anyone. These days he takes brands from elsewhere and launches them in South American cities, Lotus and lately Kiss and Fly amongst them. We still talk from time to time in a club language few can understand. He’s at home In Brazil. He speaks more languages than a United Nations interpreter, can talk intelligently about art, fashion, and world culture with the best. He loves the slums, the streets, and the cultura that’s born from it, but he’s also at home rubbing elbows with aristocrats.

The first day I met the man, I saw a composition notebook on his desk. The cover inscription read “in this business there is no friend that you cannot get rid of, and no enemy that you cannot reconcile with.” I never wrote it down, but I carried that thought with me throughout my career. It is unbelievably true, and must be remembered by all operators who are look to last. Circumstances make partnerships, and attitudes between foes and friends changeable. I interviewed my old mentor, but as you know, my move has created a clutter on my desk and in my mind. I can’t post it today, but will real soon. To the thousands who remember Rudolf Piper and wonder what ever happened to him, I offer this photo of a man who was as important to nightlife as any that ever was, and despite the change of venues, or indeed because of it, remains wonderfully relevant today.