Would you go to Jim Henson's 1960s far-out nightclub?

The man behind the Muppets envisioned the club as "entertainment of the future.... theater of the year 2000."

The Everett Collection

When Jim Henson is mentioned, it's pretty much a given that the first thing to come to mind is "puppets". While he is probably best remembered for The Muppet Show and the associated movies, it wouldn't be a surprise if you also associate him with Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, or even The Jimmy Dean Show, where dog puppet Rowlf bantered with the country music star.

Yes, Jim Henson's many lasting works are a testament to his creativity. However, his imagination was not just limited to puppets.

Puppets were just one of the things that interested Jim Henson. While in his later career he would focus primarily on puppet-related projects, in the Sixties he worked on a variety of mediums. And baby, they were totally groovy.

In 1965, he made a short live-action film called Time Piece, a surrealist nearly dialogue-free project starring Henson himself. The experimental film revolves around a man trying to escape the passage of time. The short was nominated for an Oscar but lost to a French short film called The Chicken. 

In 1969, Henson followed Time Piece up with The Cube, an hour-long teleplay about an unnamed man — literally named "The Man in the Cube" — played by Richard Schaal, who you may know as Chuckles the Clown from The Mary Tyler Moore Show or as Leo Heatherton in Phyllis. In this strange film, reality is subjective while a man is trapped in a cube with various people entering and exiting.

In the mid-to-late Sixties, Henson embarked on an even more ambitious project: a nightclub. Specifically, "a sensational glimpse into the inner contents of our time—a vital, living, expanding experience that consumes its audience." 

Can you dig it, man? 

Henson sketched a dome-shaped nightclub, meant to be a truly immersive art experience. The club would be named Cyclia, and according to the sales brochures, "Cyclia is the entertainment experience of the future—theater of the year 2000."

...Hey, remember that in 1966 the year 2000 was still the far-flung future.

The defining point to Cyclia was going to be faceted, crystalline shapes all across the walls, floors, and ceilings with video projected on them to align with whatever music was playing. This could be video of forests and slowly swirling paint to a relaxing folk song, or bright colorful bursts of animation for a rock number.

Henson nearly purchased a location in Manhattan for Cyclia for a cool $200k. However, the deal fell through, and the nightclub never materialized. A few rare snippets of the videos that were meant to be projected still exist. Take a look:


 
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20 Comments

wallyandbagfan 6 days ago
https://youtu.be/LavY2K3-Vhs
Halloween With The Addams Family.
Zip 18 days ago
Imagine how much more far out his club would be if he could have used Devo's version of "Can't Get No Satisfaction" like in that video clip.
I realize that this might be sacrilegious to lovers of classic rock and in particularly lovers of The Rolling Stones, but I actually prefer Devo's version. It's way cool.
I'll post this video of the song rather than of the music video because I had this album. Never actually saw the music video of it until I looked the song up on Youtube just now. Still prefer just the audio.

TonyClifton 19 days ago
WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAAAAY ahead of his time!
evetsocrates 20 days ago
Wow... this is my kind of club! I'd do it today, along with the burgeoning rebirth of Winamp, Milkdrop's visuals would be heavily utilized, along with great dance music! (If anyone in L.A. is up for this, LMK!)
Sounds like the dome would be based on Buck Fuller's geodesic forms!
Runeshaper 20 days ago
Jim Henson was such a talented man and I totally would have been interested in his nightclub!
Bricat2001 20 days ago
Oooo I would love it if fraggle rock or the muppet show aired on metv.
evetsocrates Bricat2001 20 days ago
'The Dark Crystal' and 'Labyrinth' would be perfect for Svengoolie!
daDoctah 20 days ago
Given the time period, I'd worry that it'd have more in common with the setting of Henson's surreal teleplay "The Cube". YouTube link below; warning: running time 53 minutes plus:

CaptainDunsel daDoctah 20 days ago
I don't think I've seen that anywhere since the late 60's. But I still remember the bit where the Man in the Cube breaks one of the wall panels, and a repairman comes in to fix it. I'll probably have to watch just to see if I remember it right.
daDoctah CaptainDunsel 19 days ago
Back in the sixties, I chanced into it at exactly the same point. With people coming and going through various panels, the main character gets frustrated and breaks one to find nothing behind it but swirling colored lights. The repairman measures the irregularly shaped hole, phones out for a part number by code, and when the piece arrives it slips neatly into the hole with no seam showing.
Coldnorth CaptainDunsel 11 days ago
I remember that. So long ago I forgot about that
MrsPhilHarris 21 days ago
Personally I’m not a fan of psychedelia.
Mblack MrsPhilHarris 19 days ago
Animal drummed with the Grateful Dead for a while.
Mblack MrsPhilHarris 19 days ago
No. I was teasing.

But Bruce Hornsby did tour with them in the early nineties, but as a guest rather than member

I like soft rock oldies jazz easy listening disco country music
And classical music and the great music on The Lawrence Welk Show.
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