Cool "Disco" Dan

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Example of the Cool "Disco" Dan tag

Cool "Disco" Dan (the quotation marks are part of the phrase) is the pseudonym of graffiti artist Dan Hogg (born December 31, 1969 in Washington, D.C.).[1][2] His standard mark, a particularly styled rendering of his name, has proliferated in the Washington metropolitan area, notably on surfaces along the route of the Washington Metro Red Line.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Dan was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1969. His mother and father moved the family to Annandale, Virginia when Dan was still a young boy. While he was growing up, Dan was teased for being short – neighborhood children called him "Disco Danny," inspired by a character from the TV show What's Happening!! . Difficulties with socializing and a lifelong struggle with mental illness both contributed to his isolation from the drug scene and gang wars that were prevalent in DC in the 1980s and 90's.[3]

Cool "Disco" Dan has been spraying his tag since 1984. Part of the Go-Go scene of the 80's in Washington, he managed to avoid being jailed or killed, unlike many of his contemporaries, by devoting himself solely to graffiti rather than involving his art with drugs or gangs. The pervasiveness of his mark was reported frequently in the local press.

He is featured in the book Free Agents, a history of Washington, DC graffiti,[4] and has a page on "Art Crimes" as a featured artist.[5]

As he has been writing his tag for so long his work is now part of the landscape of Washington, as attested by mentions of him in George P. Pelecanos' novel Shame the Devil as a "D.C. legend"[6] and in Dinaw Mengestu's novel The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and in lyrics by Giant Robot and experimental pop act Golden Birds.[7] Works of his have been acquired and exhibited by the Corcoran Gallery of Art.[2] His tag appears briefly in the 1996 motion picture Mars Attacks. His graffiti can also be seen for a moment in The Frighteners.

The name was used as part of a Jeopardy! style answer by the Washington Post in its weekly Style Invitational contest. The winning "question" for the answer "Moses, Jesus and Cool 'Disco' Dan" was "Who is Marion Barry going to need help from to clean up Washington?"[8]

He is the subject of a documentary, The Legend of Cool "Disco" Dan.[9]


  1. ^ a b Paul Hendrickson (October 9, 1991). "Mark of the Urban Phantom". Retrieved March 4, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "The Daily Docent—Contemporary (Re)defined: Contemporary Art from the Permanent Collection". Corcoran Gallery of Art. Retrieved March 4, 2009. 
  3. ^ 2013. The Legend of Cool "Disco" Dan. Directed by Joseph Pattisall.
  4. ^ Gastman, Roger (2001). Free agents: a history of Washington, D.C. graffiti. R. Rock. ISBN 9780970934802. 
  5. ^ Gastman, Roger. "Featured Artist: Cool Disco Dan". 2001. Art Crimes and the artists. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  6. ^ George P. Pelecanos. "Shame the Devil". Google Book Search. Retrieved March 4, 2009. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Myers, Pat (21 November 2013). "Style Conversational Week 1048". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Buckwalter, Ian (February 20, 2013). "Spray of Reckoning: How Cool "Disco" Dan Became a D.C. Mascot". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 

External links[edit]