The village of Follina hides a real secret: it is the Rouge et Noir, a splendid luxury night club where everything, from the sofas to the posters on the walls up to the legendary disco balls, has remained intact since 1975, the date in which its fascinating history began.
Who would have thought that the romantic Villa Abbazia, an ancient 18th-century residence part of the Relais & Chateaux association, was the center of nightlife in Veneto in the 1980s?
In fact, it was 1968 when the Zanon De Marchi family, the current owners, bought the building that now houses the Relais, and in 1974, after its renovation, they opened a bar there. Year after year, they added pieces to the realm of beauty and good hospitality that has become today; so in 1975, they decide to also open their first disco, which will be followed in 1982 by the shop, in 1990 by the hotel and in 2002 by the fine dining restaurant La Corte.
Today the Rouge et Noir is one of the very few “period” dance halls with original furniture left in the world.
(Zanon De Marchi Family)
We are in the 70s and in Italy, copying a trend that comes in particular from America, the first discos begin to spread, places where people went to listen to the music of loud records and dance, mixing black and white music. If you think that both Studio 54 and the film Saturday Night Fever, just to mention two icons of disco music, both debuted in 1977, it is easy to imagine how innovative and visionary Rouge et Noir must have been for little Follina at the time.
Obviously underground, like the first nightclubs that were born to the sound of anti-aircraft sirens in Europe during the two world wars, the Zanon family was inspired by the most famous clubs of the Paris era to create their disco. The colors are, in fact, those of boudoirs and perdition, red and black, hence the name, which mix with the growing trends of the moment, like science fiction, with a decor made of mirrors, neon lights, luminous consoles and laminated fabrics.
For the interiors of the place, they ask for help from an art teacher and friend, Umberto Ciabatti, who designs it in grand style, with great attention to detail.
Suffice it to say that the lights in the corners of the sitting rooms are all by Venini in Murano glass and that an original black carpet was chosen for the floor (the only detail replaced over time with a black and white floor) in contrast with the walls made entirely of mirrors made by local artisans.
For the first time, actors and protagonists of the world of entertainment started to mix with the “common people of the night” and, to celebrate them and remember their “passage”, discos fixed images and autographs of celebrities on their walls.
Just like in Rouge et Noir: just take a look at its walls to see black and white photos by famous actor Marcello Mastroianni, who became a regular here when, in 1976, he shot a film in the area with Laura Antonelli and William Berger. The words spread out and soon afterward also the elite of sports and politics begin to attend the club that became the protagonist of Venetian social nights.
A real jewel that will make the hearts of all nightcrawlers vibrate is the dance floor: in a semicircle, with a neon-lit square floor, dominated by the raised console of the disc jockey and surrounded by glittering discoballs. An 80s icon.
Remained open until 1996, then closed to make room and “quiet” for the hotel’s growing clientele, the Rouge et Noir is a “museum” of entertainment that has miraculously remained intact and fully functional, available today on request for photo shoots and private parties, to return even just for one night to the “silver age” of entertainment.
The posters you see scattered around the club claiming “Rouge et Noir La Discoteca Follina” are the original ones from the launch of the club in 1975, created by a local advertising agency. The charming girl in the image is Ivana Zanon, to whom we owe the idea of creating the disco, that she was portrayed with a cigarette in her mouth, as it was very fashionable back then, even though she actually didn’t smoke.