David Mancuso

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 ’70s, 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 discothèques of the 70s and 80s were modelled 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.

Career

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.

By the late ’70s Mancuso abandoned audio mixing, beatmatching, and pitch-shifting in favour of an “audiophile” approach to sound reproduction.

In 1999 and 2000, Mancuso and Colleen Murphy produced the compilation series David Mancuso Presents The Loft, Volumes One and Two on Nuphonic.

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 80s.

On September 19, 2005, Mancuso was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his outstanding achievement as a DJ.

On December 23, 2006, a nightclub named after Mancuso opened in Tübingen, in southern Germany.

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.

Musical Style

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 lied 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.

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