Love Saves The Day
Top image: ‘Love Saves The Day’ by Tim Lawrence, courtesy of Duke University Press
David Mancuso, DJ and pioneer of New York dance culture, has passed away at the age of 72.
Mancuso was a pioneering DJ, whose invite-only parties in the 1970s became the bedrock of New York’s underground dance culture and welcomed marginalised and LGBTQ audiences. His private parties at The Loft in Manhattan helped establish a vibrant alternative to New York’s commercial club scene in the early 1970s, famed for their exceptional sound quality rather than DJ showmanship.
“For me the core [idea behind The Loft] is about social progress,” he told writer Tim Lawrence in a rare interview earlier this year. “You won’t get much social progress in a nightclub. In New York City they changed the law for [entry into clubs, from] 18 to 21 years old; where can this age group go to dance? In my zone you can be any age, a drinker or non-drinker, a smoker or a non-smoker. And that’s where I like to be.”
The Loft was known as a positive and safe space for its often marginalised attendees and its success inspired countless more underground venues that became the birthplaces of house music. In 2005, Mancuso was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his contribution to club culture, and he was central to Tim Lawrence’s investigation into New York’s early dance scene, Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979, a book named after the first party at The Loft in 1970.
The death was announced on Facebook by industry veteran and Kid Recordings founder Craig Shiftly. The cause is yet unknown, and the post read: “He will be greatly missed, but, thankfully, he left the world a lasting vibrant legacy that continues to inspire and influence countless generations of music lovers and clubbers.”
David Mancuso inside the Prince Street Loft. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. The Estate of Peter Hujar.