October 20, 1944 |
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Deejay, party promoter|
David Mancuso (born October 20, 1944, New York City) created the popular "by invitation only" parties in New York City later known as "The Loft". The first party "Love Saves The Day" was in 1970.
Mancuso pioneered the "private party" as distinct from the more commercial nightclub business model. In the early 1970s, Mancuso won a long administrative trial when the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that he was not selling food or beverages to the public and therefore did not need a NYC "Cabaret License".
Mancuso's success at keeping his parties "underground" and legal inspired others, and many famous private discotheques of the 1970s and 1980s were modeled after The Loft, including the Paradise Garage, The Gallery, and The Saint. Mancuso also helped start the record pool system for facilitating the distribution of promotional records to the qualified disc jockey. Elements of Mancuso's influence can also be seen in the famous nightly scene outside of New York City's Studio 54, where legendary owner Steve Rubell understood the appeal of selectivity and took Mancuso's "invitation only" idea and expanded it to ridiculous, and ridiculously effective, extremes. Some nights Rubell would famously keep almost everyone standing outside and only admit 100 patrons or so. The effect was to make admittance to 54 even more sought after, increasing the club's popularity exponentially over the course of the mid and late 1970's.
Before hosting his first Loft party in 1970, Mancuso was playing records for his friends on a semi-regular basis as early as 1966. These parties became so popular that by 1971 he and Steve Abramowitz, who worked the door, decided to do this on a weekly basis. These parties were similar to rent party or house party.
In 2003, British journalist and lecturer Tim Lawrence published an influential and comprehensive study of the New York roots of modern dance music culture that placed Mancuso at its narrative center. Entitled Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979, the book highlights the influence of Mancuso's late 1960s and early 1970s Loft parties on every major figure in the New York dance music scene, including Robert Williams, founder of Chicago's Warehouse and Muzic Box, Nicky Siano founder of the Gallery, Larry Levan DJ at the Garage, Tony Humphries founder of Zanzibar, among numerous others. His first major loft party, called "Love Saves The Day", was held Saturday, February 14, 1970, at 647 Broadway. The importance of Mancuso and The Loft are also chronicled in Josell Ramos' documentary, Maestro (2003), a Garage and Levan-centered narrative of New York dance music culture in the 1970s and 1980s.
In May 2008, David Mancuso, with the help of Goshi Manabe, Colleen Murphy, and Satoru Ogawa, launched his own audiophile record label, The Loft Audiophile Library of Music. The music is mastered by Stan Ricker.
Mancuso had an unusual style of playing records. He was known for leaving space between each track, playing them fully from beginning to end with no adjustments. He had a reverence for music, especially good, new music, and his skill lay less in tricks and mixing and more in storytelling. He used each song to create a profound musical narrative to generate and reflect a changing mood. Mancuso told The Village Voice, “I spent a lot of time in the country, listening to birds, lying next to a spring and listening to water go across the rocks. And suddenly one day I realized, what perfect music. Like with sunrise and sunset, how things would build up into midday. There were times when it would be intense and times it would be very soft, and at sunset it would get quiet and then the crickets would come in. I took this sense of rhythm, this sense of feeling…”
It is difficult to say whether Mancuso’s ideals were an encapsulation of a common feeling during the budding disco era or if he played an important role in providing dance music with its obsession with freedom and inclusivity. Either way, he provided a definitive source for optimistic faith in equality within the Disco genre. His gentle spirit permeated the music he played and his message of love rarely went unnoticed.
- The New York Times
- "Review: Maestro (2003)". The New York Times.
- Brewster, Bill (2000). Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Headline Book Publishing.
Lawrence, T. (2003). Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture 1970–1979. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.