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David Mancuso

Written by Bernard Lopez

David Mancuso is the DJ and creator of the Loft parties in New York. He discusses with DiscoMusic.com all about the Loft experience. Background on the New York Record Pool and the dance music scene in the 1970s.

Written by Bernard Lopez of DiscoMusic.com

True Origins of The Loft

Photo of David Mancuso at the LoftWhile speaking to David Mancuso it is clear that certain events in his life are paramount to the Loft experience and what he wants to share with others. It should come as no surprise that great things can happen when groups of people are brought together with the right music. Music promotes a sense of well being and radiates energy, which in turn is reinforced by the group. This positive energy is then expended in the form of dancing and social interaction and gives life to a party. While one may think that only adults can tap into this energy and well being, nothing could be further from the truth as evidenced by the following story.

Shortly after the end of World War II in a room in a Catholic orphanage twenty or so children up to the age of six gather around a table waiting for Sister Alicia to start the festivities. She takes care of the children on a daily basis and this is another of the many parties that the nun puts on for them. She's decorated the room with balloons and made it look as cheerful as possible. In the center of the table she has a record player and a stack of records all set to go. Despite the fact that some of the children are too young to even talk, the music is what brings them all together and gives them great pleasure.

One of those children is David Mancuso, who years later would organize New York's longest running parties known simply as "The Loft." Mancuso explains to DiscoMusic.com, "There was one room where these childhood parties would be held-I didn't remember the room, but forty years later when I saw the pictures of the room, they were geographically the same layout almost to the "T" of my Loft." David goes on to say that there are a lot of associations with the past like the invitations he uses for the Loft parties, which depicts four children gathered around a table with party hats and balloons.

Arrival in New York City

David Mancuso was born in October of 1944 in the small New York town of Utica. His first four years were spent in an orphanage and then he was reunited with his mother till he was fifteen and a half. Leaving home and shinning shoes to support himself he quit school at sixteen to get more work to pay the rent.

Paradise GarageSince he had no one telling him what he could and couldn't do, David was now free to do whatever he wanted. One of the things he was told not to do was go to the "other side of the tracks." This is the area that the Blacks and Hispanics lived in and Mancuso says, "I connected with some of them. It opened up a whole world for me and then I started finding out about Black music-The Shirelles, James Brown... I fell in love with these records and also made some very close friends who treated me very well. After school we would go to someone's house and listen to music and dance. It's always about dancing and music."

Asked if music was instrumental during his formative years he had this to say, "Music gave me a lot of piece of mind since there was a lot in my environment that was not stable. Music is therapeutic; it raises your life energy... If your life energy is raised then music is healing-what more can we want."

Since many of his friends were from the "other side of the tracks" we spoke briefly about the racial climate in Utica during the late 1950's early 1960's and I asked Mancuso what his thoughts were. He replies, "I didn't agree with the status quo of the environment that I was living in. I knew instinctively that it was wrong. I liked everybody."

Photo of New York City street scene

Moving to New York City

During the Labor Day weekend of 1962 David and a friend took a trip to New York City. One of the first things that struck David was the openness and diversity of the people. It was a refreshing change from the socially repressive town of Utica. New York City was vibrant and the mixing of cultures and ideas appealed to him greatly. Mancuso says, "I immediately fell in love with the city."

During that short weekend visit, Mancuso made some new friends. One of them offered him a place to stay until he got on his feet. About six weeks later, on the first day of his eighteenth birthday and during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, David decided to move to New York City and take his new friend up on the offer.

He spent his first two months living in the Bronx. Able to find a menial job at a fast food place he soon found his own apartment in Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Asked if he had any plans when he came to New York Mancuso tells DiscoMusic.com, "I just want to live and be happy. I was happy to be able to pay my rent, to have my independence. This was like the best thing in the world for me. I had no real ambitions at this point... Just make friends, enjoy myself, and be responsible... Basically, I didn't get into any trouble. My independence was very important to me."

David remained in the Upper West Side till around 1965 moving at least twenty times. It was during this time that he began dabbling in interior decorating and later antiques through his many associations. Once he got into antiques he focused on small silver goods and traveled extensively to and from Europe and did very well at it. He continued in the antique field till around 1973.

The Broadway Loft and the Klipschorn's

Around 1965 Mancuso moved into his first loft at 647 Broadway near Bleecker Street. The loft space was huge. Mancuso recalls it being roughly 25 feet by 100 feet with 14-foot high ceilings and a wooden floor. When asked what attracted him to the loft space he had this to say, "I think it goes back to the orphanage... Somehow or another I always identified with large spaces, old buildings..." David further explains that the neighborhood at the time was very desolate compared to what it is now. After 6pm everyone would disappear since the neighborhood was comprised mainly of factories and warehouses. Since the area was zoned for commercial use people were prohibited from actually residing in the lofts. What Mancuso and others did was to hide their beds along with pots and pans from the prying eyes of the city's building inspectors who would show up unannounced.

Klipsch - Klipschhorn speakersOne of David Mancuso's hobbies was tinkering with electronics and stereos, which gave way to his interest in high-end audio. One of his friends was noted audio designer Richard Long who would later create the sound system for Larry Levan's Paradise Garage. Having a large loft space allowed him to purchase two pairs of Klipschorn loudspeakers in 1966-67. The three-way horn loaded speakers were huge units that needed to be placed in a corner and had a frequency response of 33hz-17khz. The Klipschorn speakers are known for their efficiency and ability to play clearly at loud levels. These were mated to a McIntosh power amp and pre-amp and two AR turntables.

The loft space and high-end audio equipment were perfect for a party and a party is exactly what Mancuso had in mind. The gatherings and fun that he had with friends in his youth never left him and he soon was holding parties at his loft on a regular basis. It was strictly fun, music and dancing for him and his group of friends. The parties continued till around 1970 when economic constraints forced David Mancuso to scale back a bit and require his friends to "chip in." At first the parties were held about twice a month. Within six months this was increased to every Saturday night with the parties beginning at midnight and finishing at 6am.

AR Turntable used  in the LoftIn the beginning there was no mixer so he merely switched turntables by using the "phono 1" and "phono 2" switch on the McIntosh preamplifier. Later he rigged two Shure phono preamps with a level control to fade between them. This eventually gave way to a custom built mixer around 1973. Apparently long overlays were never part of the equation as the mixer merely served as a means to segue from one record to the other or allow Mancuso to stitch together two copies of the same song to create a longer version. In due time however, Mancuso realized that he and his guests weren't hearing the full potential of the vinyl record or stereo system. He explains, "Getting into high end audio I realized how much nuance there was in the record and also that the record should stand on its own. I don't want to interfere with what the artist intended or the integrity of the recording cause that's the artist's message so I play the record from the beginning to the very end. Occasionally, if I had one of those DJ friendly records where it starts off going boom-boom-boom for thirty seconds or more I would time it to begin a little later... In order to get Class-A sound, you had to get rid of the mixer. So what happens is you find a way to keep the flow going so there's no space unless you intended it to be that way." He continues by saying that he is not a beat mixer and doesn't care for BPM's and the like and NEVER uses the pitch control.

David Mancuso - Loft inviteWhen asked what kind of music he played at the Loft parties David simply responds, "Dance music Bernie, dance music. I would play everything from Jazz to classical and everything in between." Mancuso made it a point to explain that he is not into categories and was and still is open to all forms of music. He went on by saying that he had no set playlist and played mainly by ear and from what he and his friends would research, discover and share. Many a times the guests would bring some of their records to have played at the party.

Here is where he goes to great lengths to describe what these parties were and weren't, "It was basically a rent party. Private: by invitation only. It was NOT a club-not a membership-none of that stuff. I made it very clear; this was an invitation and you made a contribution. The money only came into it because I had to do it. When the money came into it, I didn't want it to spoil it. I wanted to maintain the integrity of the party and provide as much as I could and it worked."

The Loft parties would be attended by as many as two hundred guests in the course of an evening, but around 1972-73 Mancuso was given permission by the landlord to knock down a wall and join two loft subdivisions together. This greatly increased the space and now attendance was as high as three hundred people.

A large number of these guests would later go on to prominence as DJ's, remixers and even club owners. People such as...

Tony HumphriesFrançois KevorkianFrankie Knuckles


(l-r) Tony Humphries, François Kevorkian (Francis K.) and Frankie Knuckles

Danny KrivittLarry LevanDavid MoralesNicky Siano


(l-r) Danny Krivitt, Larry Levan, David Morales and Nicky Siano

All of the above were regulars of the Loft parties. In a 2002 interview Danny Krivitt remarked, "The Loft was unique and being the original RECORD POOL, it was a musical center and Mecca for DJs. This is where I began my longtime friendships with DJs Larry Levan and François Kevorkian (François K)."

The Birth of the New York Record Pool

photo from Loft CDIn 1974 Mancuso moved the Loft parties over to a larger space at 99 Prince Street in Manhattan's SoHo section. It was during this time that he and Steve D'Aquisto came up with the idea to unify the city's Disco DJs by starting a record pool. This record pool would lobby the record labels to distribute the records to DJs who were members of the pool. Despite the fact that Disco DJs were becoming more instrumental in breaking new records without any support from radio, they were having a difficult time acquiring new product from the record labels. Mancuso explains the reason for a record pool, "There were about twenty six DJs at the time and it was getting harder and harder to get records. You had to be on someone's special list, there was discrimination going on as to who got in and didn't... We made an announcement that if they (DJs) wanted to meet to work things out they were welcome to come to my space to see what we can do. At that meeting I suggested a pool-somewhere we all join together and that's where the record pool concept came in."

Mancuso's love for music was usually at odds with a business mentality so I asked if the pool was a business and he replied, "Not at all. If you go by today's record pools, yes. First of all, I financed it for the first two years because DJs had no money. I had the space so I donated the space. I had moved to 99 Prince Street and it took 17 months to bring everything up to code so I had spare time to develop a record pool... We did it for the music."

He proceeds to explain that he had the record pool incorporated as a non-profit venture and did everything democratically with the members voting on issues that affected them and the pool. Mancuso was voted president and secretary while D'Aquisto was vice president. In order for DJs to belong to the record pool they had to supply a letter from their employer with a corporate seal stating how many nights they worked... This was easier said than done since most DJs worked off the books. This letter helped to establish the legitimacy of the DJ to the record pool, but most importantly to the record labels since in effect the DJs had been prescreened. Some of the original members of the New York Record Pool included Steve D'Aquisto, Francis Grasso, Michael Capello, David Rodriguez, and Nicky Siano.

New York Record Pool 99 Prince DJ ID for Orellana When asked if he realized the significance of the record pool at the time Mancuso tells DiscoMusic.com, "All we wanted to do was get music and share it and do it as simply as possible. Some of these DJs were literally working seven days a week, 12 hours and not getting paid and when they did get paid it was like $20-50 dollars a night and on top of that they had to buy their own records."

The New York Record Pool flourished and soon boasted three hundred members. This however was taking a great deal of time from Mancuso's first love, which was hosting his Loft parties. He explains, "I had enough and I don't mean that in a negative way. It's like you can love your children and raise them, but there is a point... it's gotta go on its own... I gradually let it (record pool) go." By 1978 Mancuso had completely divested himself of anything to do with the record pool. It is around this time that a Loft staff member by the name of Judy Weinstein would take over operations of the pool. She would later begin a revamped record pool called "For the Record" to which all the top New York Disco DJs belonged. In a 2002 SpeedGarage.com interview Weinstein said, "I started to work for him (David Mancuso) at the Loft when it was on 99 Prince Street... and actually started running the record pool along with Mark Riley and Hank Williams... "

Information, Politics and Money

Salsoul promo 12 inch Disco record"I didn't do the record pool for material gain or for power... There were a lot of ways to make money if I just bent the rules a bit and I never did any of that. I kept it very straight up" This is what Mancuso said as he gets into more detail about where the New York Record Pool was heading. He tells DiscoMusic.com that he was very pleased in what the pool had accomplished, but continues by saying, "Unfortunately, things changed quite quickly and we started getting people opening up pools and record pool directors sleeping in bed with the record companies and all that sh*t-that part made me sad." On many occasions Mancuso thought he should go back in and try to clean house, but things had gotten to the point of no return.

David Mancuso declares to DiscoMusic.com that the records released during the record pool era of 1975-1980 were the best since the feedback the record pool DJs gave back to the labels was "straight up feedback and no bull sh*t." Mancuso continues, "The feedback would be just two things, personal reaction and floor reaction. From that, the record label would go back and redo it or whatever until they got it right."

The Split With Eddie Rivera

I wanted to touch upon what I thought could be a thorny subject with David and that was the split with the late Eddie Rivera. Eddie Rivera was a DJ and member of the New York Record Pool who, for reasons we will soon find out, started his own record pool called the International Disco Record Center (I.D.R.C.).

Mancuso was kind enough to give DiscoMusic.com a thorough explanation to which I will condense for the sake of brevity. In 1976 one of the officers of the New York Record Pool did something that was not acceptable so Mancuso asked him to step down and replaced him with Eddie Rivera. Mancuso says, "I found Eddie Rivera to be very friendly, intelligent and focused. A flag went up however when he (Eddie) said we should make a Latin music department and I asked, why do you want to do that for, this is a pool? Records are coming from every different direction we should get them from all labels-period. That was my first indication that he was up to starting his own record pool."

Mancuso, who rarely missed a meeting, continues by explaining that every meeting was tape recorded as a record of events. However, on one occasion he was out of town and missed a meeting. On his return Eddie Rivera tells David Mancuso that they all decided on certain issues during David's absence. Mancuso asks to hear the minutes (tape) to which he is told none exists. Mancuso says, "I had to ask Eddie to resign. Anybody who had a hidden agenda or did anything to threaten the record pool-we were like an eggshell... We generated 4 million dollars for the music industry in New York and there was a lot of focus on this pool and I really wanted this thing to be right. I asked Eddie to resign, which is what I think he wanted... There was obviously a split between Eddie and I and then he decided to form his own pool, which is what he wanted to do from the very beginning."

The Move to Alphabet City

After the departure from the New York Record Pool, Mancuso devoted his time entirely to the Loft parties again. His home and the parties was now at 99 Prince Street where he remained till 1985. The gentrification of the downtown area saw rents skyrocket and available spaces and the size of them dwindle. This forced a move to a building on 3rd Street in one of New York's most crime-ridden neighborhoods known as Alphabet City. He saw a 65% loss in the amount of guests attending the parties, but he managed to stay there for eleven years. His attorney at the time defrauded him and several others and Mancuso ended up losing the building on 3rd Street. Moving became more frequent with brief residences on Avenue A and later B.

The Loft Parties On Tour

By 1995 Mancuso saw that it was next to impossible to find any reasonably priced spaces in downtown so he had to think a little differently. He explains, "I started to do what I thought I would never do or could do and started to do tours. I did tours and I still do, but rarely because I am very fussy about everything (music / location / electronics...). I started with Japan and I thought I would be leaving my family, but then it got down to survival... It turned out that they would respect the way I wanted to set the sound, balloons and everything so I said at least it's something-it's getting the message out there. I'm learning and growing again in a way I never thought I would."

In addition to touring around the world, Mancuso hosts his Loft parties about 4-6 times a year at an undisclosed location in New York that he rents out for the occasion. When asked why so few parties compared to the past he replies, "I can't find the space and I don't have the resources like I used to. After I lost the building on 3rd Street I have been economically restrained. I've had offers that you can't believe, but there are catches to them and I can't give in to them. I'd rather take the subway and do without the Mercedes Benz... I've known some of my guests for more than twenty-five years and I can't go away from that. The Loft parties are very personal, intimate thing. It's the thing that keeps me going in life."

When asked how long he sees himself doing the Loft parties Mancuso replies, "To my last breath-if they let me do it, sure. A party is made of many components: the group, the music... It's a whole-shared environment and there are many pillars that give it strength. It doesn't revolve around the person. Once that starts to happen, forget about it." Mancuso currently does about 6-8 tours a year.

Present Day

The topic of clubs and if he went or still goes to them came up and Mancuso replied, "I went out more then than I do now. It's now become more of an endurance test just to go out. I don't like to go in situations that are over-crowded where you can't dance or where the sound system is so over-powering that your ears are ringing or where beer costs seven dollars a bottle. This is what I am rebelling against. This is the very thing why I do what I do (the Loft parties). I'm not saying that it's wrong, but I want a situation where there is 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."

Nuphonic Loft Compilation CD Series

A discussion on the highly acclaimed David Mancuso presents the Loft multi-volume and multi-disc compilation on UK's Nuphonic Records enfolds. David Mancuso has always been serious about audio quality and very adamant about doing things a certain way so it should come as no surprise that he has turned down many offers over the years to do a compilation album. He tells DiscoMusic.com, "Nuphonic was very responsive, paid careful attention to pressing quality, using the full length of the song and maintaining the integrity of what the artist intended. We took it from there and then Nuphonic went bankrupt despite the fact that the Loft compilations were their best selling item in their catalogue for three years."

David mancuso presents the Loft Vol 1David Mancuso presents the Loft Vol 2


UPDATE: The David Mancuso Loft CDs are now long out of print and fetching big bucks on the used market with prices well exceeding $100.00(US) per volume.

New Audiophile Records Project

Continuing our discussion on his dance music projects David says that he is currently in negotiations on an upcoming series of 12 inch "audiophile" vinyl record releases. When asked if they will appear on CD he says, "I don't know about the CD part. Personally I don't like CDs-I have a whole issue with them. On the vinyl side they will be high-end audiophile material-Sheffield pressing-incredible stuff. It'll be a lot of stuff that never got released or things that I know about... I have one record called One Day of Peace that was never released that is an incredible record." Mancuso doesn't have a release date yet, but it will be posted here at DiscoMusic.com when that time comes.

Today's Music

"Take Latin music. Why has Latin music survived? With all these trends and all, why has it survived? It's live musicians. I think we drift away from the creativity or the energy that music has to offer when we rely too much on electronic devices. I don't mind if a drummer misses a beat once in a while. I'm not a perfect dancer. It's harder to find interesting life energy raising music, but those are cycles and I think things will get better." That is what Mancuso tells DiscoMusic.com when asked about today's music. He stresses that he doesn't want to judge anything, but those are his feelings and he still finds plenty of music now that raises his life energy.

The Loft Experience

When asked what makes the experience complete Mancuso replies:

It's a vibe. You're having a peace of mind or you're not. Usually the more you shed your ego, the more peace of mind you will have. The music... that's what it allows us to be, free. The Loft parties doesn't function about how good the DJ is-it's about the music.

Wrapping Up

In closing I must thank David Mancuso for his willingness to discuss the Loft parties with the readers of DiscoMusic.com despite his busy schedule. He was most candid and forthcoming and put up with a lot of questions. It must be noted that during the time frame of our discussions the Loft celebrated its 33rd anniversary and we wish David many, many more years of spreading musical joy.

- The End

Written by Bernard Lopez of DiscoMusic.com (March 14, 2003)
http://www.discomusic.com/
Copyright © 2003 by Bernard Lopez
All rights reserved

Recommended Listening
Related Links

Thanks to DJ Luis Mario "Flaco" Orellana for submitting the photo of the 99 Prince St New York Record Pool DJ ID card.


 

Your Comments

Denise Evans |

I want to say thanks for all the good music and the peace to dance my a** off wearing my ballet shoes.When you played, Ain't no mountain high enough, I would loose my mind and dance around the room like it was my own stage.The loft was my church. I am faithful to the music till this very day. I listen to Thousand Finger Man and all the other music every night it's my mind peace.

Lisa brooks |

@billy NYC I would love to talk to you further about backstreet and Atlanta back then gimme some stories I could use for my documentary on backstreet...ialso would lime to hear from DJ billy prest..plz give me a story about Angelo Solar...hard to find out more about him..when did dsve play there what year n Larry who was playing..im.doing research so plz help ok

Robert |

My place of solice! What's up Dave? Hope life is treating you well! Can you play the Mexican 1 more time. Truly an institution, pioneer type s***, light years ahead of our time, life, love & free-thinking. The house era can never be recreated. Thanks!

DJBillie Prest |

I was there a couple of times... David was there... Larry was playing music.

lisa brooks |

Would you have any media of backstreet i could use in my film??or direct me to someone who would THXXLisa

BillyNYC (Billy Smith) |

I remember Angelo Solar from Backstreet in Atlanta very well, went down there many times to promote my records. Fun town to back than. I was the one record promoters that pushed Billboard for this prize. At that time it was only New York and LA and we needed to get the other cities exposed, Atlanta was on the top of the list and was one of many to get the word out "Disco".

Lisa Brooks |

Does anyone remember Angelo Solar from Backstreet Atlanta early 70s 805 he was Bill board DJ of the year several time learing from Jim Burgess who cowrote the son Backstreet by Patti Whatley which is what Angelo wanted to have a song about his club Im making a documentary and could use your help looking 70s 80s history Thanks Lisa Brooks lbrooks770@gmail.com

Sand |

Hi Dave before the loft became the loft, I used to come to your beautiful home for the private parties or just to hang out. Me Calvin, Reggie Jackson, Bruce, Micheal Flowers, Ect. We had a ball. You were such a great host. You came to my house in the Bronx Tyrone and I were living together then. We had a child but never married. He lives in Atlanta now I am still in New York. You were so beautiful to us and you knew how to have a good time. I have missed you over the years.

robin |

i was at the loft every sat nite until i left for la 1976
there was no other place like the loft the best music coolest people everything was just perfect wish there was some where to go and dance now love you david

eartha mills |

David,..You know You are truly a good friend and I love you,..nuff said!!!...see you soon!!!

MrB1gStuf |

In the early 80's I used to work from 4pm to12 midnight. On Saturday nights I'd go straight to The Loft after work, leave The Loft @ 2:30pm and go straight back to work. I remember being the one time, I wasn't dancing at the moment just standing grooving to the music. When I looked at my watch I realized I had been there 9 hours and hadn't sat down yet. (the car seats that had lining the walls). "Those Were The Days My Friend, We Thought They'd Never End".

MrB1gStuf |

@ Larry Fisher. Wassup man, this is Brian from the Archer Ave. parties in Queens days. How are you? Drop a line Seycheeze@hotmail.com...Peace

dj mike c |

i never got a chqnce to go to the loft or paradise garage. but my little siter did . she could not wait to get there. i was in to basketball. from the late 60's on . but i always loved music. this was the time of mobile dj's cj flowers,and the rest of them. a magical time in new york city. all of you guys were killing it. i miss those days nothing like it , but loft was the place you were the guy, playing that music., because really that whats its all about music. much love dj mike c/brooklyn

Nysupreme |

I have never gone to a loft party but I kno its one hell of a good time...and I got to meet david which was awesome LOVE SAVES THE DAY--NYC!

Larry Fisher |

Thanks David,


You were and are still inspiring to me.

eartha collins mills |

It is june 2011 and i still attend loft parties. I have been a member since 1976. David still brings the best music around......41 years and still goin strong!! What does that tell you?....love saves the day!!

dejanero |

Bernie!
Great stuff to read and reflect upon. I was a DJ during the period of the loft down in Wash. DC. I spun for private crowds exclusively. But I too remember the main thing at that time was the music and the vibe (most important). Discussing the parties and energy of that time is so difficult because there has never been anything like it since!! I agree that you had to be there to truly understand. I'm in my fifties now but would give most anything, to experience that type of energy at a club again but most club historians swear that it was a time that can not be replicated. Well, I don't know if thats true or not but god knows we need places like that today with so much stress and pressure in our lives just trying to survive!!!!

BillyNYC (Billy Smith) |

That sounds great, just what i have been waiting for "The biggest party in NYC bringing you House Dance & Club music. reuniting Studio 54, Paradise Garage, The Loft & Bonds International" Can you set me up with a 6foot table near the front door so I can sale AARP memberships?

Tone Blaq |

Nov 20, 2010

Hello all Club Heads (Paradise Garage/The Loft/Studio 54/Bonds International),
We are in the process of launching the biggest party in NYC bringing you House Dance & Club music. reuniting Studio 54, Paradise Garage, The Loft & Bonds International. Spinning House, Dance, Club & Classics with surprise Guest DJ's!
continue to follow for information on where & when.

Tone Blaq

billie prest |

Thank You.... I attended The Loft several times ... Larry Levan was playing... I knew of the dj only as "Larry"... It was a special intimate experience. Thank You David for "doing what you do"... > Billie Prest (dj and former director of Club Zanzibar & Club 88)... Jersey.

BillyNYC (Billy Smith) |

David Mancuso has done a wonderful thing for a lot of people on this earth - all so true.


Billy Smith (Amato) NYC

Leena Isbom |

Hi!

Is it possible that the band Lost Tribe once played in the Loft? The year was 1993.

I have written in my calendar that the place was called Loft. It was a very nice place, like you'd stepped into someone's living room - sofas, chairs, a lot of balloons on the ceiling. I had never been there before and never went again. A member of the band had told me about the gig, it was not a regular music club (I went out to listen to music all the time).

Does anyone remember that?

Best wishes,
Leena

Brian Royster |

David Mancuso has done a wonderful thing for a lot of people.I really, really miss those 99 Prince Street parties.They changed my life.Love still saves the day.


wanda wojcik kus |

OK, I'm a dancer. Where can I go to dance in New York? I hear they don't dance anymore. I experienced discotheques in 1970 to 1972. And love funk/soul/rock and a dj that can mix, without following a stupid, boring formula. Please help!

Frankie Knuckles |

I first started hanging out in the village when I was 16 years old. Larry (Levan) and I use to hang out at a club called The Planetarium, on 2nd avenue between 1oth & 11th St (There;s a movie theatre sitting on the site now). Anyhoo, the club was in the basement. It had a sister club on the upper east side in East 59th St just at the foot of the exit coming off the bridge. Remember, this is long before the tram to Roosevelt island was erected. The sister club was called The Jungle.
During this period I was attending school at The High School of Art & Design (which was located on the corner at 57th St & 2nd Avenue. Many times throughout the week Larry (levan) would meet me at my school and we'fd hang in the area or, I'd be working at Bonwitt's (while other friends were working at other department stores in the neighborhood). Tuesday night was the night to hang at The Jungle. Wednesday night was Tamberlaine (on East 49th St (between 1st & 2nd Ave). Thursdays was spent at Willie's (which would later become BETTER DAYS (when it moved to West 49th St between 8th & 9th avenues.
Friday nights were spent either going to Number 1 (in Greenwich Village) or, at various house parties in Brooklyn or Staten Island. But Saturdays were spent at The Planetarium. Until one Saturday night while I was waiting for Larry to meet me at our favorite meeting place, the corner of Saint Mark's Place & 2nd Avenue (because I was coming from the Bronx and he was coming from Brooklyn), I heard some people standing on the corner talking about this place The Loft.

Well, when Larry finally showed up he said we needed to make a stop on the way to The Planetarium. The Planetarium was my favorite place so, I was in a serious rush to get there. But Larry insisted that we stop at this party on the way. It was pretty much in the same neighborhood so, it wouldn't be taking us out of our way. "Okay, cool". Lets do it and hurry up becaise I wanted to get to the club.

So we jetted across Saint Mark's Place to Astor Place and then, shot down Broadway. There was crowd beginning to form just outside of 637 Broadway, a dark, grafitti-clad door way that led to a party on the second floor. The party was by invitation only. Somehow Larry had scored the invitation from someone (I later found out it was from Yvonne Ray, who worked the door).

There were so many people outside trying to get in but didn't have invites or, weren't members. Now you know how special I felt being able to get in. Kinda ironic considering, I didn't even want to go there. But I remember once we got inside the feeling of the heat in the room from all the bodies. The lights that bounced off the mirror ball were spinning very fast around the room because someone had jumped up gave the ball a good spin and, the tune that was playing was the intro "Theme From The Men" by Issac Hayes, with the sound effects of sky rockets bursting in the air. The spinning lights faded into darkness and the only light illuminated was the Christmas tree in the front of the dance floor.

The were church pews on the left side of the dance floor and people dancing on top of them, beating tambourines and cowbells. The energy just pulled you in automatically. Near the entrance on the floor in front of you was a giant snake pillow with several couples laid out on it. Behind the snake pillow was a small closet-like structure with a man inside with a flash light between his legs. As we got closer the man inside looked up at us. It was David Mancuso, looking very Jesus-like with his long dark hair and beard. He had the most piercing eyes. He looked at me and larry and gave us a smile. Larry told me that that was David, the owner of the place.

Fast forward, I found myself spending every Saturday night at The Loft until the end of that summer ( I think it was '72) when David decided to close the club to take a vacation. Like every other member I was disappointed and heartbroken that the club was closing. What were we gonna do? Where were we gonna go now?

Two weeks before The Loft closed for David's holiday, Larry and I were waiting on the corner of Bleeker & Broadway for this other friend of ours, Donald, who was working at a small club over in Chelsea that neither of had been to. Larry being impatient decided to run back upstairs leaving me to wait for Donald. Donald finally showed and we headed back upstairs and enjoyed the farewell to summer festivities.

Later that evening Donald introduced me to this kid that he said owned the club he was working. This kid was 15 years and I was gagging that such a young kid had his own club. But Donald had enlisted in the military and was preparing to leave for the air force in 2 weeks. He asked me if I'd be interested in taking on the job at this club while he was away. O f course I said yes. That kid he introduced me to was Nicky Siano and the club was "THIS & THAT GALLERY" bka THE GALLERY. This was the beginning of my foray into this business.

Shortly thereafter when The Loft opened at 99 Prince Street and The Gallery had moved to Mercer & Houston Streets (just on the corner from The Loft), I was now playing records with Larry (Levan) at Continental Baths. There was word on the street about the record pool opening and many DJs had there doubts about it being much of anything to concern themselves about. Larry and I were amongst an elite group of DJs that were always granted access at all the record companies. The promotional people would always come out to the lobbies and take us in the back to their offices and let us run wild through there new releases. This kind of respect was only being grant to DJs like Mancuso and D'Aquisto or, guys like Rich Kazor, Bobby DJ and that crowd. But there were only a small contingent of black DJs playing in manhattan that was given this access; Me, Larry Levan, Tee Scott and David Todd. But when The New York Record zpool opened all of this changed. And for the better.

I'm proud to be able to say I was one of the original members of The New York Record Pool. Who knew that all the education I gained from guys like David Mancuso & Nicky Siano would prepare me for the life and career I've endured for the past 35 years.

David Mancuso and Nicky Siano are THEE GIANTS whose shoulders my career has been built on. God Bless Then Both.

Frankie Knuckles

Gene Gordon |

Although I only had the pleasure of experiencing David, his music and The Loft once back in January of 1971, it left an indellible impression. I remember climbing the staircase to the dance area magically lit with just a hint of dry ice fog. There was a lilting song playing in the background - "Cherchez La Femme" - Dr. Buzzard and His Original Savannah Band...the first time that I had ever heard it. (Lots of new tunes were heard that night.)
From that moment on I was hooked on personally crafted music...I taught myself how to "spin" and played at clubs, parties and bars in San Francisco for 10 years ('80s-'90s.)
I am now 57 still making music although rarely for more than a home gathering. Once it gets in your soul it never leaves!
Thank you for a wonderful well written article. It brings back the best memories.

carolyn |

i was taking inventory on my life and where i am today. i teach creative dance to children. i can never forget the inspiration to dance that i drew from the endless swirling, flowing and heart pulsing rhythm my body moved in during my lofting days. those dances to the music david mancusso played set the path which led me to where i am now. although i sought formal dance training i know my experience at the loft was the deep in your soul training that has kept me loving and living dance till now. sometimes when i play music for my little students and they dance together i can't help but see the purity and joy i once felt when i danced at the loft. someday i would like to meet david mancusso to personally thank him.

love and light

Scotty |

I was just cruisin the net, and what the heck,,there is a site for the Loft. I was there in the early days of 71 and 72....Really missing the scene. The clubs of the time. The Filmore. All the wonderful people. That I met and knew. Wondering how many are left. Thanks to people like Dave. I have wonderful memories.
Dave if you ever want to set up another place. Let me know. Its a heck of a drive from the mid-west. But I might want to take it.

Scotty

Tom Maguire |

I hope David finds the hook-up here in NYC yet again. Real Estate is a b**** today and no one seems to realize the social underpinning a place like The Loft provides.

Back in the day, I worked for Richard Long at DiscoSound Associates behind the scenes then went out on my own to build dozens of successful clubs and later while in the recording industry teched for some of François Kevorkian's most famous remixes (he looks like a baby in that picture).

David, you have my support for what it is worth.

Tee Rock |

Inspiration is too small a word to describe what I felt and learned from David mancuso's Loft parties. It' sbeen years since my last offical Loft party, but when I have a get together I do it with a Lofty sensibility- I invite close friends, keep it intimate, they bring something to share and we dance all night to the same tunes I was exposed to may years ago. Thank you David for all that you have shared with us.

Sarah Sawyer |

Hey Bernard!

Great stuff. We are doing a documentary film about New York in 1977 and are searching everywhere for mancuso, the loft, dancers at the loft. ANYTHING! we can get our hands on. Any leads?!

Thanks so much,
Sarah

ennio |

David Mancuso...uhmm...minchiaa!!!
one of the best italo american dj(and producer).
This is the story!!!!

Ernie Avalos |

The very first time I went to the Loft
was in the early 80s was the most wonderful experience a ever had it was like I was in a dream I dance long hours til next day ever since the loft music lives in the deepest part of my soul I also met the most beatiful Puerto Rican girl named Alice from New Jersey. Forever the Loft music will live

Dotti |

Dear Dave,

I'm so happy to hear that you are doing so well. I often wondered where you were and how you were doing. You may not remember me, but you gave me a job at your establishment, shopping for the food and my favorite part of the job, arranging flowers. You had such a a great vision. I haven't experienced a club like the "Loft" since. Well, take care and God bless.

mike zelvin |

David,

I met my wife, Maritza Del Rocio Pozo, at the loft on Valentine's Day 1993. I'd been a member for some time and you were down next to Nuyorican at the time. When I proposed to her three years later (I don't remember when you moved again) I went back during the day with her, took a big black magic marker and tagged my first grafitti on that big red door ...telling the world what magic happened to me that Valentine's Day thanks to your spirit, that space, entropy, and love. Good people and good music drew us together, and if I can find my dog-eared membership card we'll draw together again in May.

vito giordano |

caro david
sono un aspirante dj e l'unica cosa che vorrrei dirti ..........che...............
io amo tanto l'hose music e la mia vita
dipende molto da lei perch quando io l'ascolto mi vibra qualcosa in tutto il mio corpo e mi porta a muovermi,
a ballare,
ad ascoltare e..............
ed evviva l'house music.
grazie a te tutto questo non potr mai essere un sogno, solo realt!!!!!!
grazie ancora david.............

Delmar Browne |

The Loft Boxed Set Part I & II are classics!

David, I'm proud that your expression of love from music extend an hand that claps worldwide!

Stay with the Soul and keep the passion,

Delmar Browne

Eddie Pacheco |

Ah the Loft. Celebrated my birthday one summer in the 80's and loved the experience. David is a mastermind for his unique taste in a good party. I only went twice to Prince Street and once to third street and it was as if I was at home. Thanks David for a great memory.

Jeffrey Smith |

All I have to say is !!! DITTO !!!! DITTO !!! DITTO !!! I was a member of the loft from 1975 until 1987. I looked foward to Saturday night like I looked foward to Christmas as a kid every year. It was always very different each week. From the look inside the place to the music that David played each week. It was like reading a book listening to David's music. He told you a story with it if you were able to listen and understand. I also worked for David at the loft when he moved to Ave. C for a while. I am please to hear that he is doing well these days. I will ALWAYS, rememer David's willing to take the time to explain to anyone who asked how he was able to get such a great sound in the loft.
As several other people have stated on this site , my life was forever changed when I became a member of the loft. I will always hold a warm and family felt love for Dave in my heart until the day I die.

Tony Wright |

My search for a club brought me to many. Eventually, I found myself at the Gallery after leaving Better Days. One Saturday, the Gallery had been shut down by Fire Marshalls and I sat on the steps lost without a Home to go to.

I saw a crowd headed down Mercer St and followed them. They were dressed in the attire of Dance at the time. They turned on Prince St
Went into a Basement and disappeared.

I hung out for a while cause I could hear the echoes of music in the air. I went to the basement, but was turned away. I was not a member. I paid a fellow and his girl $10.00 to get me in. Thank goodness they accepted.

I walked through those doors and into that basement and immediately felt the vibe. I had found home. I didn't even know there was an upstairs for, like 3 months. The restrooms was there, the food was there, the dancing was there.

Oh by the way, David himself allowed me to become a member. Because at the time I didn't truly know anyone who was a member. I was told the place is his and he is the Man. I explain my situation to him, he in turned asked me if I had two pieces of ID, and said this, "Don't invite anyone, once you become a member, to this party that you wouldn't invite to your own home. Done!

I was a member. I have remained a member. I still have my LOFT membership card. My number is 0061.

Eventually, I am going to locate one of those, ever so infrequent, Loft Parties and dance the night away.

I DJ now, and as Tee Scott influenced my style, it was David who said, "If you're going to DJ it is you obligation and commitment to search the WORLD for music and bring that vibe to crowd you play for"

David, should you ever read this, I have maintained that integrity and commitment. And the search continues.

LOVE SAVES THE DAY

vienne |

Bernie, what a splendid article. I certainly relived my days in The Loft in a way that would not have been possible, but for this article. Yes, indeed, The Loft was one of the most successful of "after-hour" joints I ever frequented. The atmosphere was more about the pick of the music that David Mancuso chose to play - all night long, right through till early afternoon. How can I forget partying on Prince Street absolutely dripping with perspiration and on a summer's morning going out onto the fire escape to cool down and thinking on many a Sunday morning as the sun was coming up "I'd better be heading off home" and then, as though David read my mind, he would play, "Daylight" by Bobby Womack - twice, back-to-back. The first time I heard that song was in the Loft and I don't think I ever heard it anywhere else, certainly not on any of the radio stations I listened to. I searched for years trying to find out the title of the song and the person who sang it.

David certainly "knows" his music - I particularly liked the way he just played, rather than trying to thrill the crowd with some sort of DJ'ing talent by doing some weird mix. No, he kept each piece for real, never compromising the integrity of it's authors. What he did do though was to know exactly what should follow what - now that to me is a kind of genius, as he just knew how to keep the crowd's energy high.

Gosh, I miss those days specifically - running downstairs for some refreshment from the bar - the fruit punch, pieces of fruit and the big slabs of processed cheese - all free.

Some times, I would be so tired, but I loved partying more than I liked sleeping, so I would go to The Loft, party some and then go get some sleep on the cushions next to where we checked our coats - wake up and go back and party till I dropped once again. Oh my, I can't count the times I travelled on the train home at mid-day so exhausted I would fall asleep till my stop (always managed to wake up at my stop mind you). Or be woken up by some wino bum slobbering over me haha.

Bernie - thank you for such a splendid article once again. You really capture the essence of who and what you write about. And my thanks too to David Mancuso for producing such splendid atmosphere and inspiring me on so many different pieces of music I would otherwise not have heard.

I certainly hope to be at David Mancuso's Loft Reunion in London on 12 September 2004.

Wonderful article - thank you.

Vienne

franc |

Bernard - You wrote a wonderful article about my friend and fellow Utican, David Mancuso. I left that repressive environment for about a year in 1965 after graduating from Proctor High. I lived with another exile from Utica who had been living in Brooklyn. But I spent a lot of time with David on the upper west side. Music was our uniting force. We went to the Territorial to dance. David introduced me to Ravi Shankar & others. We were both on a spiritual path and I think we have found peace. I live a quiet life with my family in rural upstate NY just east of Utica. I am so glad to have broken away from a very suffocating mentality and to be exposed to new perspectives. I became and artist and photographer but music was a big part of my live. My mother was a pianist and music was a big part of growing up. I had a little RCA Victrola and played yellow Tubby the Tuba records. Also the Sabre Dance and Latin Music from the 50s. I found David today on the Web quite by accident, or was it? I often wondered about my friends from my NYC period. David was so kind and gentle in a city that could be very harsh and cold. I am glad he is well. Would love to catch up on things. Take care and thanks again for your interview.
Frank Forte from Utica.

mindfield10 |

As an avid loft member for over 22 years, I must say that this article is not only refreshing but a blessing. A blessing because the history of my life is surrounded by the Loft and all its memories and influences. I first entered the Loft in 1979 and its music, vibe and expression of love has been a catalyst for my existence as a young and growing adult. David Mancuso created an environment, in which I could express myself artistically and intellectually. The Loft has shaped my life and gave me a sense of community that has lasted me from the moment I walked into 99 Prince until now. I will forever be grateful.

This story puts it all together for me. All my aspirations, curiosities and limited knowledge of David and the Loft saga into one complete package. I am sure that I am not speaking for myself as I know, personally, that there are many "Loft Babies", who have their own stories and influences courtesy of the David Mancuso, The Loft and its legacy.

Many of us are trying our best to maintain the love and true meaning of dance music, which the Loft bestowed upon us. Too many venues to mention, however, I am pleased that newer generations continue to thrive in the shadow of the Loft and its inspiration to dance music.

Dave Mancuso and the Loft family will be in my heart and sould forever. For they have made me the person I am today. If I were to write a story of my life it would inevitibly have a foundation in the Loft. David Mancuso has silently and musically inspired me and many other children to grow in a peaceful & harmonious world. The Loft wasn't just a party, but a way of living, dancing and creating.

Peace and Love - OM.

 

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