Once a thriving part of Italy's club scene, the expansive discotheques built on the outskirts of Italian cities in the 1980s were largely abandoned by the late 90s for less groovy nightlife options. After touring and shooting some of these shuttered behemoths, photographer Antonio La Grotta finds them representative of the "complete cycle of life and death with their mysteries."
As with the grand and campy sets of Italian talk shows, these melancholic "cement whales" were built "large enough to contain the dreams of success, money, and fun of thousands of people," La Grotta tells Slate. Now, some host the occasional rave, but they're primarily used by the homeless.
In shooting, Paradise Discotheque, La Grotta rarely managed to get inside a disco. But when he did, "the contrast between the past, what I imagine it was, and what I saw then, was very funny. It was like everything was alive again for a short moment just for me." Slate has more standout portraits from the series.