David Mancuso, DJ and pioneer of New York dance culture, has died aged 72. Kid Recordings owner Craig Shifty announced the death on Facebook on Monday, writing: “He will be greatly missed, but, thankfully, he left the world a lasting vibrant legacy that continues to inspire and influence countless generations of music lovers and clubbers.” Cause of death is not yet known.
The founder of The Loft, an establishment regarded as the “first underground dance party” in New York, Mancuso made his name as a champion of a different kind of 70s club scene. Unlike the commercial clubs that existed to make a profit, Mancuso and particularly his event Love Saves the Day, offered a space for its members, often an LGBTQ audience, to celebrate nightlife without police interference.
“For me, the core [idea behind The Loft] is social progress,” he said in 2013. “How much social progress can there be when you’re in a situation that is repressive? You won’t get much social progress in a nightclub. In New York City they changed the law [for entry into clubs, from] 18 to 21 years old; where can this age group go to dance? In my zone, you can be any age, a drinker or non-drinker, a smoker or a non-smoker. And that’s where I like to be.”
Mancuso was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005 for his contribution to club culture, and as one of the formative figures in DJing and dance music. As well as creating a positive and safe space for its often marginalised attendees, The Loft was known for improving the standards of sound, using an exceptional hi-fi system to heighten the musical experience.
Other artists paid tribute to Mancuso.
“I’m heartbroken to say my dear friend David Mancuso has passed away,” wrote deep house veteran Kerri Chandler. “I’m at a loss for words, thank you for showing me how it’s done. All the things you taught me over the years I will cherish. I will miss you, with Love, Respect and Admiration always.”
— Roger Sanchez (@djrogersanchez) November 15, 2016