Dance music legend and DJ pioneer David Mancuso died yesterday at the age of 72.
Kid Recordings owner Craig Shifty announced the death on Facebook on Monday, writing: “He will be greatly missed, but, thankfully, he left the world a lasting vibrant legacy that continues to inspire and influence countless generations of music lovers and clubbers.” Cause of death is not yet known.
Mancuso is famous for running his private party The Loft from the 60's up to the time of his death, while also coming up with the idea of the Record Pool and inspiring scores of selectors along the way.
After moving to New York City in 1962, Mancuso rented a loft at 647 Broadway near Bleecker Street. "During this time, I would go out to rent parties. They were at someone's apartment, or somebody would throw an event, and it would be just to raise money for the rent. So I had this loft space on Broadway and in order to pay rent, I threw some parties between '65 and '70. It worked out really well. About half-a-dozen of them happened over that five-year period of time, even though I always say The Loft started in 1970."
His first official "The Loft" party, called "Love Saves The Day", held on February 14th, 1970, and eventually went down every Saturday night, starting around midnight and running until dawn. By this point, the audiophile Mancuso avoided using the pitch control on turntables, preferring less components and high-end speakers to convey the musician's vision as opposed to the DJ's. Famously, records were not mixed at The Loft. François K, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, Nicky Siano and David Morales were regulars at The Loft, which eventually led Mancuso to establish the New York Record Pool, acquiring promos from record labels for the qualified DJs in his circle.
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 DJs. 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.
But the original private party kept an egalitarian ethos at its core. "I want a situation where there are no economic barriers, meaning somebody who didn't eat that day or only has a few dollars in his pocket can eat like a king, drinks are included, you see your friends. There's no difference if you have a lot of money or a little."
The Loft continues on. It was last held on October 9th, 2016. Though Mancuso hasn't been the DJ in a number of years, he still oversaw all aspects of the event. A pair of compilations released by Nuphonic in 1999 and 2000 attempted to capture the seminal's party sound.
If you want to listen some of the magic that was going on at the parties, have a look at the playlist below. We're definitely born in the wrong era.