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RIP David Mancuso
Lottie Brazier , November 15th, 2016 12:28

Iconic New York DJ and founder of The Loft has passed away

The pioneering New York DJ and founder of The Loft David Mancuso has died aged 72.

Mancuso’s invite-only New York parties appealed to LGBT audiences who needed that safe space that he provided them. The exclusivity of The Loft meant that the New York gay community could party without police involvement. This was in part due to the fact that the club never sold alcohol, meaning that it didn’t have to own a liquor license. In an interview from 2013, Mancuso stated that at The Loft, you “can bring your own alcohol, and you don’t have to pay to check your coat. It’s all-inclusive. It’s a community support kind of thing. Once you get a liquor license, there are so many regulations, your overheads get raised so high, and all sorts of costs follow.”

The Loft went on to inspire other garage parties in America like Chicago’s Warehouse and New York's Paradise Garage, which shared a similar exclusivity. Though unlike places like Paradise Garage, where metal detectors where set up to keep guests in check, there was a more liberal attitude towards The Loft’s guests, so long as they didn’t make the space threatening to others.

Although making money was a necessity to him at this point, Mancuso was more interested in experimenting with his Klipschorn setup than making vast profits from music fans. This was all ultimately in aid of making the music sound more close to the original recording, rather than in order to show of the brute force of the soundsystem itself. He observed that “You don’t want to hear the soundsystem. You want to hear the music… Even with the best telescope in the world there is a lens”, meaning that the equipment that the music is played on always colours and frames the experience of the music itself.

The Loft would go on to inspire dance music, especially the ideals behind the venues in which it was played. With Mancuso spinning an eclectic range of funk, soul and Latin music, this would have then been picked up by attendees such as Frankie Knuckles, Larry Evan and Nicky Siano who would then become DJs themselves.

Friend, fellow DJ and writer Bill Brewster said of Mancuso that “although he looked a pretty stern and foreboding presence when he played, [Mancuso] was actually friendly, kind and inclusive. A hippie to the last, in fact. Although by the time I first met him, in 1998, his memory had become a little fragmentary, the principles which he'd adhered to throughout the whole of his career were still completely intact. The world of superstar DJs had completely bypassed David. He was thoughtful and, this was true of not just my meetings with him, but random fans on the internet, always approachable. When a friend excitedly emailed him to thank him for coming to play in Japan, he replied swiftly and offered him the opportunity to come and help set up the venue at 5am.”

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