When the Party’s Over, He Picks Up His Camera

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Manhattan Sunday: Photographs by Richard Renaldi

CreditRichard Renaldi

The black-and-white photo shows two buff young men in matching “I ♥ NY” tank tops, buzz cuts and striped athletic socks, standing in a middle of a deserted Manhattan street, their muscular arms intertwined in a tender embrace.

It’s not clear if they are new friends, old lovers or something in between. The date of the photograph is also unclear.

“This night could have happened 20 years ago or 20 years in the future,” said Richard Renaldi, 48, a photographer who lives in the West Village. “I knew that I wanted these to be sort of more dreamlike and a fantasy.”

The image is among the 130 or so featured in a new book, “Manhattan Sunday” (Aperture), a selection of which are on display at the Eastman Museum in Rochester. For six years starting in 2010, Mr. Renaldi visited New York City’s nightclubs and documented patrons between midnight and 10 on Sunday mornings, often on their way back home.

While night-life personalities like Honey Dijon and Ladyfag can be spotted in the mix, most of the portraits are of nameless club-goers. There are no identifying captions, other than the time of the shutter click.

The book is Mr. Renaldi’s fourth and, unlike his previous monographs (mostly portraits of strangers across the United States), this one comes from a very personal place: His fascination with New York night life. His obsession with the club scene and disco music began in the late 1970s, as a child growing up in the Chicago area and dancing in the living room to Donna Summer and the Village People.

“I don’t know if my siblings were aware what the song ‘Fire Island’ was about,” he said with a grin.


Mr. Renaldi now lives in the West Village. When he was 11, his parents took him to Zorine’s, a popular Chicago dance club.

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