When Patti Smith began transitioning into music, she staged a series of shows playfully dubbed “Rock and Rimbaud.” On November 10, 1974—the anniversary of the death of her favorite poet, Arthur Rimbaud—the Patti Smith Group kicked off the series at the Le Jardin disco in the Hotel Diplomat. She recalled looking out in the crowd and seeing Susan Sontag and other downtown luminaries, then realizing that something was really starting to happen. Also in attendance at the Le Jardin show was Cockette Pam Tent, who was dating bassist Dee Dee Ramone. “It was so crowded with people,” Tent recalled, “and it was so hot and sweaty and filled with energy that Dee Dee and I actually had sex standing up in the crowd.” On another night of the series—this time at the Blue Hawaiian Discotheque—the Fast’s Paul Zone captured Smith’s performance with an unlikely photo that included the raggedy punk singer and a glittering disco ball in the same frame.
From Chapter 21 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore