David Mancuso, as the owner of his own space, could play whatever he liked, this enabled him to be bold, adventurous and also to buck prevailing trends, in turn setting some of his own. However this same ethos led eventually to the Loft disintegrating. His tendency to play music at a lower level than typically experienced in clubs as well his refusal to mix alongside music scenes splintering somewhat so that such an eclectic approach was no longer seen as fashionable.
That said, in more recent times you can witness Mancuso’s influence grow. Things came, and are continuing to turn full circle. After years of clubs sticking to a 4/4 house beat, or deigning themselves strictly drum and bass, or 100% northern soul, for example, the idea of a varied playlist has again become something to be sought out. Moving away from the monotonous technicality of digitally assisted dj’s ploughing a rigid furrow, turning down the volume so you can actually hear some of the detail in a track, just relaxing a bit… these things seem more appealing perhaps as life itself gets ever more busy and ‘loud’.
Back to the music and The Loft. David Mancuso would play across the board musically, cosmic jazz, soul, percussion heavy jams as well as disco, even rock which was seen as distinctly unfashionable. What made the music so special though was his obsession with audio quality, sound and the experience of listening itself. Mancuso invested in a superb audio set up, with an array of speakers designed to bring out the full sound of the music he was playing. This enabled him to experiment more with underground songs. As Danny Krivit explained, ‘If you play obscure songs on a crummy system you can get bored in 2 minutes. At the loft you got really lost in it’.
It wasn’t just the sound quality though, Mancuso carefully programmed the music too, aiming to channel the natural rhythms that surround. Thinking about the ebb and flow of sunset to sunrise, seasons change and the natural environment he selected music to replicate this. He would start out evenings playing ambient or even celestial records such as Brian Bigg’s ‘Aeo’ or Chuck Mangione’s ‘Land of Make Believe’.
This lower tempo, relaxed vibe would continue until after midnight when the pace would pick up and the intensity would start to work its magic on the dancers. This would continue long into the night until Mancuso signalled the end, taking the tempo right back down and finally playing one of his customary end of nighters, such as ‘Here Comes the Sun’.
The party continued across decades as well as locations, though not without hiccups. Not least problems with the police and licensing authorities. In fact it is here that Mancuso’s pioneer status is affirmed. It was he who set a precedent for after hours dancers wanting to put on their own events; make it invite only and don’t sell alcohol and you were pretty much untouchable.
The Loft is a feeling – so said Mancuso himself. So as with last time, here are some classic Loft party tunes.
Tracklist for the below selection.
Brian Biggs – Aeo (Parts 1&2)
Joe Gibbs & The Professionals – Chapter 3
Risco Connection – Ain’t No Stopping (Unreleased Version)
Resonnance – Yellow Train
Soul Boy – Harmonica Track
TW Funkmasters – Love Money
Atmosphere – Dancing in Outer Space
Candido – Thousand Finger Man
Ashford & Simpson – Stay Free
Demis Roussos – L.O.V.E. Got a Hold Of Me