My dear friend and mentor David Mancuso passed away earlier this week. It is incredibly difficult to come to terms with the fact that I will never see him again, never hear his laugh, see the twinkle in his eye, hug him or hear him send his love. I have spent hours crying, listening to records, reading old e-mails and reflecting upon the many different ways in which he changed my life. There were a multitude of ways in which he altered my way of thinking and my career in terms of social habits, party hosting and sound. And of course, he also taught me a lot about playing records or ‘musically hosting’.
I started going to David Mancuso’s Loft parties 25 years ago when I was in my early twenties. At the time, I was working as a syndicated radio host / producer and as a record reviewer. I already had a decent, varied record collection as I had worked in record shops from the age of 16. And I knew a thing or two about putting together music as I had made mix tapes as an adolescent, and from the age of 14 I had hosted radio shows on my high school’s 10-watt radio station through to my university days where I was a broadcaster and Program Director at WNYU. Even at my young age, I thought I knew a lot about music and the art of programming.
But when I stepped through the doors into David’s home on East 3rd Street, the site of his weekly parties, I felt like Alice falling through the rabbit hole into a new musical wonderland. The space was beautifully lit and decorated with childlike balloons, a Buddha, a Christmas tree and a massive mirror ball. The dance floor was surrounded by ten Klipschorn loudspeakers from which emanated the most exquisite sound, a sound that gently engulfed the dancers and sounded more ‘musical’ than any other place I had been. And I didn’t know a single record that he played.