David Mancuso and the Loft

“If disco—and the music which came after—has an angel, it is the raggedy figure of David Mancuso, if it has a birthplace, it is his club, the Loft. More influential than any nightclub before or since, it was the place where the music you dance to today, and the places you go to do it, were first envisaged.

Mancuso discovered and championed more classic dance records than anyone can remember, he inspired a whole generation of DJs, record collectors, club founders, and label owners, he set the standards for club sound reproduction and, in the Loft, he created a place where the equality and love of a thousand corny dance lyrics was a tangible reality. Fortified by the cosmic perspectives of the hippie generation, turned on by a profound love of music and finding himself alive in a time of exciting possibilities, David Mancuso laid the cornerstone of modern clubbing.

Up until it’s most recent closure, Mancuso’s club had enjoyed a more or less unbroken quarter-century existence. Mancuso himself, a shy man who speaks in mumbles from behind wild eyes and a busy beard, is viewed by many as a crazy musical mystic. He demands perfect sound reproduction, he refuses to mix records, insisting that they’re heard entire and unchanged, and when he talks about music his words are usually a universe away from how your average DJ would put things. However, most people who have ever felt the emotional charge of a dancefloor instinctively understand the elusive feelings that he’s trying to express.

He drifted through life in the city, making friends, struggling to make money, struggling harder to have a good time, until in 1970 he started throwing after-hours parties starting around midnight in the loft where he lived—at 647 Broadway, just north of Houston Street. Though it was never formally titled, this balloon-filled party space soon became known by all who attended simply as the Loft.”

– From Last Night a DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton

Loft parties or the “free houses” held by my high-school friends, while their parents vacationed at their fancy country homes have been with me since junior high school. I’ve trusted their reputation for fun for over ten years now. So far, house parties haven’t let me down, no matter how ambitious these liberal party-throwers get with their unique themes, and strict rules and regulations. There’s no denying the upside to being 16, unsupervised to make yourself at home by eating, drinking, smoking, inhaling, the cabinet of drugs and alcohol at your disposal, at least for the time being.

This was my youth, as clear in my memory as the guerilla-style party I recently deejayed at a Brooklyn loft in a random area, off the G train line. Normally, I’d like to forget any ride via New York’s equivalent to the short yellow bus you made fun of as a kid (no disrespect to special needs kids), but it was a reminder of how far I came as a DJ. You’re never too good, too experienced, too cool above all, for a humble beginning to spin in a non-commercial space, a lesson learned long before deejays were being handed their gigs on silver platters. Especially on Thanksgiving eve, better known as Black Wednesday, New York’s busiest night of the year for clubs and bars (not New Year’s Eve), I still considered myself lucky to be working.

Truth be told, I would have deejayed Theophilus London’s loft party/listening session in a building rife with asbestos crumbling from the walls. How would I even know? The only time any light shined in my direction was in the building’s hallway, the other was by the dj booth which lit up my dark corner during Theo’s performance. It didn’t matter though, once the weed brownies took their course. I felt nothing, not even the fear of the ground collapsing, as the floorboards underneath my feet pressed inwards. Those moshing misfits drowned out the cracking foundation over Melo-X’s set, surprisingly. I was standing next to one of the two house speakers listening to the destruction. Within minutes, I became a victim of their scrap on a daring trip to the bathroom, which required me to walk through their clouded frenzy resulting in a pinball game come to life.

By the time it was my turn to take control of the party, and myself I might add, I still hadn’t settled in. Through that level of uncomfort, despite being in a setting I was most comfortable, the only choice was to pander to the young tastemakers—(cough) hipsters, who’s musical acumen is dominated by the .mp3’s released daily on all the major rap blogs, and the Brooklynites, who demand a pre-requisite of Biggie, Jay-Z, and maybe Fabolous—for the wordplay and to bag bitches, respectively. The happy medium, Kanye’s 808’s and Heartbreak. Before “Paranoia” had the party singing Kid Cudi’s infectious chorus, that picks up where Dwele left off on “Flashing Lights,” I was already crouched in seclusion hitting keys on my laptop.

David Mancuso would have been proud. The legendary owner of the storied Loft that prefaced the beginning of my story, prided himself and his historic establishment on the music, not the exclusivity of bottle service. That tradition has been broken in the city that held the torch for nightlife, but not forgotten

DJ Treats



  1. 1 FLIP December 10, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Treats still holdin it! And the pen is still sharp…

  2. 2 B.FLY December 10, 2008 at 8:06 pm


  3. 3 DJ 61 Keys January 9, 2009 at 3:49 am

    This was a nice piece Treats.

  1. 1 Throwback: DJ Treats Live At The Loft « TREATS’ LEDGER Trackback on April 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm

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