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.
1983: The Genesis of Division
Club 57 closed in early 1983 and Steve Mass wound down the Mudd Club soon after, but Danceteria and Pyramid maintained their frenzied schedules. Patti Astor and Bill Stelling opened the new year at the Fun Gallery with a Futura 2000 show, selling every piece but one before opening night. The next show featured Keith Haring, whose career continued on its upward trajectory and included a collaborative project with the U.S. choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones. Basquiat, meanwhile, released “Beat Bop,” a ten-minute experimental rap track, yet flickered in and out of the party scene until the autumn, when four Angelenos opened Area, a TriBeCa venue organized around the innovative use of space and art installations. Many downtown partygoers swerved happily toward Area, although some expressed concern about the way it lacked the improvised, makeshift, organic values of the art-punk scene that preceded it. Money also became more prominent at the spot as Reagan’s neoconservative agenda laid the basis for a very specific form of recovery.