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.
Frozen in Time or Freed into Infinity
The Saint rivals Flamingo and 12 West closed during 1981, unable to hold on to their core dancers in the face of Bruce Mailman’s recently opened venue. Mailman attempted to re-create the collectivity of the gay male dance floor by employing a roster of DJs who, by dint of their revolving employment, could never be more important than the club itself. Alan Dodd, Jim Burgess, and Roy Thode were the principal DJs. Burgess retired on 31 January in dramatic circumstances; DJs Sharon White and Robbie Leslie stepped forward. During the same period the parameters of DJ-ing in the Saint and meeting the expectations of the crowd came into focus, with dancers requiring smooth mixing and high-tempo music. The strands of R&B, punk, and rap-influenced dance sounds that were gaining in popularity in other parts of the city hardly featured at all.