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The Loft founder David Mancuso has died

Legendary New York disco party host and DJ has died aged 72

David Mancuso died on 14 November, announced Kid Recordings founder Craig Shifty on Facebook. “It is with a VERY HEAVY HEART I report that pioneering DJ and legendary founder of The Loft, David Mancuso, has sadly passed away. He was 72 years old,” reads his post. “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 – to both me and Jon [Craig's husband].”

David Mancuso was born on 20 October 1944. He was responsible for starting New York City's legendary invitation-only Loft parties. The first, Love Saves The Day, happened on 14 February 1970 at Mancuso’s own home at 647 Broadway. Though this non-commercial setting meant that no food or drinks could be sold, Mancuso effectively established a haven for marginalised groups, such as the gay community, by creating a safe, hassle-free space to party. “Don’t forget, you had the civil rights movement going on, you had gay liberation going on. You had all these movements going on,” Mancuso said to Alex Markman in an interview at Red Bull earlier this year. “All this music that was coming from all different directions, it was all over the place. As long as you had a neutral place where people could come and just enjoy themselves, there was such incredibly good music.”

Mancuso was also known for a DJ style that did not adhere to the usual beatmatching methods; instead he’d play tracks at full length without meddling with their bpm and without a mixer. His preferences for playing music were audiofile quality sound systems. In his book Love Saves the Day: A History Of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979, Tim Lawrence declares that Mancuso and his Loft parties were a central force and key influence on New York's dance scene.

David Toop concurs in his feature about Arthur Russell in The Wire 329. “Despite its importance in popular music history, nostalgia, neglect and misinformation have distorted the disco story beyond recognition,” writes David. “Turn to Tim Lawrence’s forthcoming book, Love Saves The Day, however, and the origins of disco supply an opening through which a reserved, complex and idealistic musician like Arthur could enter [...] Mancuso treated members of his club, The Loft, as house guests, offering them free food and juice, an inclusive, egalitarian door policy, the best possible sound system and a musical trajectory that was uplifting and unpredictable.”