Time Capsule From Iconic New York Club Prompts Temporary Bomb Scare

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — What started out as a bomb scare in Manhattan is turning out to be a trip back to New York’s disco days.

Now, a nightclub owner from the 80’s is fighting to get his time capsule back.

In the 1985 movie “Desperately Seeking Susan,” Madonna dances through the dimly lit Danceteria nightclub on West 21st Street — and she was no stranger there.

“Madonna performed, Billy Idol, every Englishman of the 80’s,” former owner John Argento said.

The club closed in 1986 and is now an office building. But today, Argento is back after he saw the time capsule he buried in the back alley 33 years ago had been dug up by construction workers.

“We were just looking for a party to do and we bought this shell of a bomb at an Army Navy store on Canal Street and 6th,” Argento told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “We invited people to write cards and say hello to people in the future.”

As it was unearthed, the capsule looked pretty suspicious to police. They evacuated the street Wednesday afternoon and took it away.

Argento can hardly remember what was inside.

“I was hoping the contents survived and I want to get them back because a lot of people ask about it,” Argento said.

That includes the building’s current doorman, who remembers partying at the club as a teenager.

“It would take me back,” Cliff Russell said. “To when I was 19 or 20, I’d probably forget my aches and pains and dwell on the trinkets and things no longer around.”

It was a time before cell phones, and Argento only has a few photos and fliers left.

He’s hoping the time capsule can return some old memories left on the dance floor.

“The city was exciting then — it was innovation, music, art, fashion, because kids could still afford to come to New York City and get an apartment for 100 dollars and the drinks were two dollars,” Argento said.

It isn’t exactly police protocol to give someone their old bomb shell back, but police say in a few days once it’s thoroughly searched, Argento can likely pick up whatever was inside.

More From CBS New York

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
Get Our Morning Briefs
Bloomberg WCBS Tri-State Business Index

Watch & Listen LIVE