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.
Dropping the Pretense and the Flashy Suits
Thanks to the promotional efforts of Fred Brathwaite, Michael Holman, and Ruza Blue in particular, the idea that hip hop existed as a cohesive culture that melded the four elements of DJ-ing, MC-ing, breaking, and graffiti had become a reality by the time Wild Style premiered in the United States at the New Directors/New Films festival held at the Museum of Modern Art on 18 March 1983. A cameo appearance by Richard “Crazy Legs” Colón of the Rock Steady Crew in Flashdance suggested that breaking could cross over to a wider audience. Roxy owner Steve Haenel hired AM/PM’s Vito Bruno to help Ruza Blue promote her night at his roller rink before firing her in the summer. The Funhouse, meanwhile, went through a subtler transition when John “Jellybean” Benitez’s studio commitments began to multiply.