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.
The Bronx-Brooklyn Approach
A largely discrete set of practices that took root in the Bronx and Brooklyn—quick-mix DJ-ing, mc rapping, the dance style known as breaking, and graffiti art—started to permeate the outer margins of the downtown scene during late 1979 and 1980. Graffiti artist Fred Brathwaite/Fab 5 Freddy led the charge after party organizer Michael Holman invited him to paint at a Canal Zone event. Brathwaite met graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat at the event. They started to hang out at the Mudd Club and formed an experimental band called Gray. Held in the summer of 1980, the Times Square Show integrated downtown art and graffiti. During the Times Square Show downtown filmmaker Charlie Ahearn and Brathwaite agreed to make a film about graffiti and the Bronx party scene. As the downtown-borough connections multiplied, Keith Haring also tried his hand at graffiti.