Paradise Garage. Studio 54. The Loft. The heady influence NYC’s clubs have exerted on global dance culture.
The case is harder to make today, but once upon a time New York hosted the most numerous and adventurous DJ-led party spaces in the world. Visitors testify they had never experienced anything like it prior to their trip to the city. Some even returned home with the dream of re-creating something of their own.
New York’s influence can be traced back to the moment at the beginning of 1970 when David Mancuso hosted the first in a series of shimmering house parties that came to be known as the Loft. Around the same time, two entrepreneurs known as Seymour and Shelley took over a struggling discotheque called the Sanctuary and became the first nightclub proprietors to welcome gay dancers into a public venue.
Selecting records in relation to the energy of their multicultural and polysexual crowds, Mancuso and Sanctuary DJ Francis Grasso established the sonic and social potential of a contagious culture. Better Days, the Tenth Floor, the Gallery, Le Jardin, Flamingo, 12 West, SoHo Place, Galaxy 21 and Reade Street bolstered the word-of-mouth network. With the media barely aware of its existence, the city’s dance scene remained resolutely subterranean – to most locals as well as tourists.