Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Loft’s David Mancuso died, aged 72…

David MancusoQuestion: What do Barrabás‘Woman’, Tamiko Jones‘Can’t Live Without Your Love’ and The Steve Miller Band‘s ‘Macho City’ have in common? Not much at first sight, apart from the fact they all found space at David Mancuso‘s The Loft. A fact that tends to show as to how music in itself was to him way ahead than anything else. Be it in regards to where it was coming from as to DJ techniques of all sorts…

Disco is widely seen as the first musical expression form which has been conceived in order to be played in the clubs (the discothèques in French). It’s most likely a phonemona which has revolutionnized everything around. Not only while establishing new approaches in the conception of music. But also engendering a whole bunch of things we still can feel the influence of nowadays.
Strangely enough, the live musicians would be the very first to pay the consequences while being progressively replaced by DJ’s taking the centerstage. And even though Disco only made its entry in the vocabulary by the mid-70’s, the first clubs such as we know them today appeared in the 60’s.

The first discothèque ever saw the light in NYC back in 1960. Its name: The Club! Others would follow in 1965, such as Arthur, the Zenon or Studio 54. As many places where the local jet set liked to show off its material accomplishment with music in the background being reduced to the status of an accessory.

Like usual, the real thing took shape in the underground, from the blend of Black, Latin and Gay crowds. The place to be for them back in 1969 was The Salvation. If not The Heaven and its three DJ’s (Steve D’Acquisto, Michael Capello and Francis Grasso) who launched The Sanctuary the year after.
Meanwhile, David Mancuso would make himself the champion of a whole different kind of 70’s club scene when dropping the first ‘Love Saves The Day’ party at The Loft on Feb. 14, 1970. A new concept was born, aside from everything that could be heard anywhere else. This would be David Mancuso‘s one and only trademark.

Born in Utica, NY on Oct. 20, 1944, David Mancuso stood to me for a long time as an enigma, if not an E.T.! He’d built himself the status of a legend in the history of clubbing although there was no mixing records at his place. He launched the very first invitation-only parties as opposed to the commercial clubs that existed to make a profit, therefore inventing the ‘Underground club night’ concept.

David Mancuso, to that extend, adopted a punk attitude way before the British movement of the name was even born. And in the meantime, he stood as a sort of guardian of the musical original work while staying away from any attempt to modify it such as the DJ’s do it beginning with the pitch control. It is to say how excited I got when my friend Jools who was doin’ the PR at UK label Nuphonic offered me to meet him to coincide with the release of the first volume of ‘The Loft’ compilation back in 1999…

I’ve been said countless times as to how The Loft’s sound was infamous, remaining the gold standard for most clubs…
“As you may guess, this is nothing but a combination of elements. As a music lover first and foremost, I’ve always felt like I had to spread it in the best conditions. In other words, let the music play as it is. Which means searching for the right sound system. Having it installed the right way. But also select the right place in order to be able to do so…”

As a music lover as well, I’ve always tried to stick as much as possible to the sound spectrum, be it when spinning as when mastering a compilation. The (right) balance is always a challenge…
“One of the very first things that gets to my mind is the speakers. This brings me back to the day when I came to discover the existence of the Klipschorn speakers. That was some time by the end of the 60’s at some friend of mind. I got litterally blown by the way they sounded. I’d been an audio geek all my life and was searching for the right ingredients.

You couldn’t see the speakers at his place. He’d got them behind curtains. After about a half hour, I said to him: “What in the hell do you have behind those curtains?”. He pulled them back and said: “There you go!” I fell immediately in love with these speakers. About six months after that, he called me up and said that a friend of his was selling his. I bought them, but then I was looking to get an additional pair.

At that time, Klipsch Associates was a very small company. Paul Klipsch was just making speakers out of his garage. If you wanted to buy Klipschorns, Alex Rosner was the only person in the North East part of the country who had the franchise to sell them. I called him up and that’s how I met him. I bought the two more speakers I needed and then I threw a party.”

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