The legacy of David Mancuso: ‘His dancefloor was a kind of egalitarian utopia’
Dance music pioneer and founder of iconic NYC venue Loft, David Mancuso passed away today, November 15, 2017, at the age of 72. While the cause of death is still unknown, the music community mourns the loss of a pioneer who nurtured the dance music community in its infancy, giving it the space and energy to grow and thrive. Learn about David Mancuso's legacy in the in-depth feature by Alexis Petridis.This article originally appeared on The Guardian
Mancuso in 1974. Photograph: Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images
The DJ behind legendary disco club the Loft, who died on Monday, would talk of music as if it had magical powers – and, in his hands, it was almost possible to believe he was right
In Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s definitive 1999 history of dance music, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, there is a lovely, heartfelt tribute to David Mancuso. “If disco – and the music which came after – has an angel, it is the raggedy figure of David Mancuso,” they write. “If it has a birthplace, it is his club, the Loft.”
It is beautifully put, and, after news of his death at 72 broke on Monday, there were plenty of DJs, producers and artists saying much the same thing. But there’s always the chance that Mancuso himself would have argued with that interpretation of his legacy. For one thing, it describes the Loft as a club, something he would never have done. It may have been a pivotal, definitive venue of the disco era and beyond, but he was always at pains to point out that it was an invitation-only party, held in his home – and not run for profit. For another, you get the feeling he might have thought agreeing with it was egotistical, contrary to his keenly honed ideology, in which the dancefloor was a kind of egalitarian utopia, devoid of celebrities or leaders. Certainly, he had no time for the idea of the DJ as a superstar. “A party is made of many components: the group, the music,” he said in 2003. “It doesn’t revolve around one person. Once that starts to happen, forget about it...