The Loft (New York City)
Manhattan, New York City
The Loft was the location for the first underground dance party (called "Love Saves the Day") organized by David Mancuso, on February 14, 1970, in New York City. Since then, the term "The Loft" has come to represent Mancuso's own version of a non-commercial party where no alcohol, food, nor beverages are sold. Mancuso's vision of a private party is similar to, and inspired by, the rent party and house party. Unlike conventional nightclubs or discotheques, attendance is by invitation only. In the late 1970s, Mancuso abandoned the generally accepted and expected practice of beatmatching, preferring to play songs in their entirety on his renowned audiophile-quality sound system, considered to be the best in New York, and among the best in the world, during the venue's heyday. Mancuso required that the music played had to be soulful, rhythmic, and impart words of hope, redemption, or pride.
When Mancuso threw his first informal house parties, the gay community (who comprised much of The Loft's attendee roster) was often harassed in the gay bars and dance clubs, so many gay men carried bail money with them to gay bars. But at The Loft and many other early, private discotheques, they could dance together without fear of police action thanks to Mancuso's underground, yet legal, business model. Vince Aletti described it "like going to party, completely mixed, racially and sexually, where there wasn't any sense of someone being more important than anyone else". Alex Rosner reiterated this: "It was probably about sixty percent black and seventy percent gay...There was a mix of sexual orientation, there was a mix of races, mix of economic groups. A real mix, where the common denominator was music."
The initial Loft was Mancuso's own home at 645-647 Broadway. The collapse of a neighboring hotel in 1974 forced a temporary closure and move to 99 Prince Street in Soho, in 1975. Vociferous community opposition ensued, and the party lay dormant for a year during the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs' longest administrative trial to date, based on their insistence that Mancuso required a "cabaret license". The department decreed in 1975 that he was free to host his parties as long as there were no sales of food or beverages. This decision set a new precedent that benefited the Paradise Garage and other private "clubs" in the process. The period also saw Mancuso's space serve as headquarters for the New York Record Pool, the very first record pool, which he founded with Vince Aletti and Steve D'Acquisto. Many of the disco era's leading disc jockeys, including Larry Levan, Nicky Siano, and Frankie Knuckles were early Loft attendees. Their venues (the Paradise Garage, The Gallery, Chicago's Warehouse, and the exclusively gay The Saint) were influenced by The Loft. Nonetheless, Mancuso maintained his niche, breaking such unconventional records as Manu Dibango's "Soul Makossa" and the Steve Miller Band's "Macho City" at his weekly events.
In 1984, after Mancuso's 99 Prince Street owner put the building up for sale, Mancuso purchased a building on 3rd Street, between Avenue B and Avenue C in Alphabet City. Not yet benefiting from gentrification, the new crime-and-drug ridden setting resulted in his losing "65 percent of [his] attendance". Around this time, DJ and promoter impresario Richard Vasquez began his influential and exclusive weekly parties, named "The Choice", at this location along with Joey Llanos. The party kept the spirit of the early Mancuso parties while embracing the early days of Deep House Music. In 1994, Mancuso relocated to a smaller space on nearby Avenue A and subsequently downsized further to another location on Avenue B. Since then, Mancuso continued to throw three to five Loft parties per year at an undisclosed location in the East Village, while organizing general admission Loft-style events in locales as disparate as Los Angeles, CA and Shibuya, Tokyo.
- Tim Lawrence Articles Archived 2005-07-30 at the Wayback Machine
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- Brewster, Bill; Broughton, Frank (1999). Last Night a DJ Saved My Life. London: Headline Publishing Group. p. 123.
- Brewster, Bill; Broughton, Frank (1999). Last Night a DJ Saved My Life. London: Headline Publishing Group. pp. 120–122.
- NYT May 21, 1974 "Weekly Parties for 500 Chill Tenants"
- NYT June 2, 1974 “The Loft's Owner Is Told To Vacate”
- Acland, Charles R (2007). Residual Media. University of Minnesota Press. p. 106.
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- "Articles by and about Tim Lawrence". Village Voice. Archived from the original on July 30, 2005. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
- Pugh, Megan (October 5, 2016). "When NYC's Dance Scene Reigned Supreme". Village Voice. Discussion of the NYC dance clubs and review of Tim Lawrence's book.
- "Podcast of Loft party". DeepHousePages.com. Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. 2005. - defunct page