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Without David Mancuso, dance music would be much less colourful

Bill Brewster remembers the DJ, curator and musical shaman

  • Words: Bill Brewster | Illustration: Eliot Wyatt
  • 18 November 2016
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Despite his huge influence in New York, for much of his working life as a DJ he remained largely unknown outside of his home city, known mainly through the enigmatic bootleg series Loft Classics that was widely distributed around New York, which also made their way to Europe. With the publication of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, my history of the DJ written with Frank Broughton, and Nuphonic’s brilliant compilation The Loft in 1999, Mancuso’s name started to gain traction among a much wider constituency. Tim Lawrence’s Love Will Save The Day, essentially an extended love letter to Mancuso, further established his position at the centre of dance culture and the parties organised by Lawrence, DJ Cosmo and cohorts brought the Loft spirit to East London on a regular basis for the first time.

David Mancuso brought together the crucial elements of club culture for the first time: the soundsystem, the party, the music, the environment. In doing so he inspired into action a generation of New Yorkers. So many of its stars began on the floor at the Loft: Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, Danny Krivit, François K and David Morales. He changed how music was viewed and helped form the notion of the DJ as creator, shaman and curator. In short, he changed dance music. In our current era of hate and divisiveness Hercules & Love Affair’s Andy Butler best summed up what David Mancuso offered: “[He] gave the Loft to the world as a celebration of music with a spirit of inclusivity and was all about the best version of humanity.”

Bill Brewster and Eliot Wyatt are regular contributors to Mixmag

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