News emerged on Monday that David Mancuso – DJ, NYC dance culture pioneer and founder of The Loft – has passed away at the age of 72. His death was announced on Facebook later yesterday by Craig Shifty, founder of NYC independent label Kid Recordings, who was the first of many within the dance community to pay his respects.
“David was more than just a seminal, influential and elusive figure in the development of DJing and NYC underground club culture, he was FAMILY – a friend and mentor,” he wrote. “My heart is broken. 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.”
Mancuso’s reputation as a music selector stretches back to the ‘60s, though his founding of what’s considered New York’s first underground party in the form of The Loft in 1970 placed him at the forefront of the city’s blossoming club scene.
Mancuso’s parties stood out for genuinely eschewing profit in place of creating a safe space for partygoers to enjoy nightlife free of police interference, with his Love Saves the Day events in particular playing a special role for the LBGT community.
“For me, the core [idea behind The Loft] is social progress,” Mancuso told Red Bull Music Academy in a detailed interview in 2013. Listen above.
“How much social progress can there be when you’re in a situation that is repressive? You won’t get much social progress in a nightclub. In New York City they changed the law [for entry into clubs, from] 18 to 21 years old; where can this age group go to dance? In my zone, you can be any age, a drinker or non-drinker, a smoker or a non-smoker. And that’s where I like to be.”
In one of his final interviews this year, again for Red Bull Music Academy, he spoke of his formative years when he came to New York city in the early ‘60s.
“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.”
The Loft lives on to this day, with its most recent event held only last month. Though Mancuso hasn’t DJed for a number of years, he continued to oversee all aspects of the events. Media tributes have been pouring in, and you can check out some from his DJ colleagues below.
— Tommie Sunshine (@tommiesunshine) November 15, 2016
ver sad to learn of the passing of DJ David Mancuso this morning… the man defined alternative club culture …. #TheLoft
— Gilles Peterson (@gillespeterson) November 15, 2016
— Roger Sanchez (@djrogersanchez) November 15, 2016