Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983
Tim Lawrence is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London and the author of Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979 and Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–1992, both also published by Duke University Press.
Danceteria: Midtown Feels the Downtown Storm
Danceteria sent shockwaves through the city’s party scene when it opened in May 1980, all the way to the Mudd Club, where owners Jim Fouratt and Rudolf Piper had spent a fair amount of time hanging out. Dedicating the basement to DJ-ing, the first floor to live bands, and the second floor to video, Fouratt and Piper presented revelers with a novel element of choice, not because of the range of entertainment but because all of the options were available at once. The shift to sensory overload was unmistakable as two bands appeared live every night, two DJs shared the turntables, and experimental filmmakers curated a groundbreaking video lounge. Danceteria offered a level of explorative creativity that threatened to dwarf the offerings of Club 57 and the Mudd Club. Yet in contrast to both of those spots, Fouratt and Piper’s venue was located not in downtown but midtown.