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.
Running since 1970, David Mancuso’s Loft sailed through the backlash against disco unscathed. After all, Mancuso had never restricted his selections to disco, plus his capacity crowd viewed Saturday nights as the highlight of their week. Meanwhile the Paradise Garage, opened by Michael Brody as an expanded version of the Loft, packed out Fridays while facing difficulties on Saturdays. Brody tried to solve the problem by turning Saturdays into a white gay night but the strategy backfired. Saturdays took off in early 1980 when a huge crowd showed up to hear Better Days DJ Tee Scott play a one-off party at the venue. They showed up again the following Saturday to see if Garage resident Larry Levan could match Scott. Brody consolidated the momentum by booking live acts to perform on Saturdays. Just when disco was supposed to have died, the Garage along with the Loft reached a peak.