The Loft Party with David Mancuso

This last weekend’s highlight has to be The Loft Party with David Mancuso at The Light in Shoreditch. Now, I’ve read “Love Saves The Day” Tim Lawrences great book about the history of American Dance Music in the 70s. David Mancuso features in this about his legendary Loft parties. They’ve been held since 1970 and for David to be still personally hosting them 40 years later is something of a miracle. And, something of a pilgrimage for me – to both experience the party and shake his hand. Ok- I was a little shy and had to pushed into the meet – but hey. He didn’t really care. Too cool.

Anyway – the party runs from 5pm to midnight and we arrived at 6.30. Food is served downstairs in a brightly lit part of the venue after which we headed upstairs to get into the party. It was quite the family affair with kids running and screaming around playing with the balloons as David stood barefoot and expressionless playing the records.

A loft party is different because by the late ’70s Mancuso had abandoned audio mixingbeatmatching and pitch-shifting, in favor of an “audiophile” approach to sound reproduction. This meant the vinyl is played in its entirety with mostly applause in between. The sound system was impressive to say the least. Never loud but always crisp and full. He’d built special wooden frames around the custom sound system and the turntables sat on huge concrete block stacks. Prior to every record, David would check and clean the needles. Once cued up – he would stand and let the music speak.

Devoid of ego and given his legendary status, largely ignored – it was the music that was the star of the party. It was wonderfully programmed while being very eclectic. Having each record finish meant an air of anticipation was created the whole night – never knowing which direction he’d take.

The crowd was as eclectic as the music – preppy chavs, hippies with kids, moms, musos, househeads, party kids, gays, straight, black, white – anything goes. London is a city where personal expression seems mandatory and this party allowed for it in spades.

So, on to the music. I knew as many records as I didn’t. The party seemed to get cranking as he dropped “Paradise” by Change followed up by Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” all 8 minutes of it – a hollering singalong from the whole room. Never has this record sounded so joyous. From there it was house, soul, techno, funk, disco for hours. There was the fantastic Timo Maas of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence – but it was Crown Heights Affair “Say A Prayer for Two” which tore the roof off – and two tracks later we were lost in acid house. Followed by Phreek “Weekend” and Musique “In The Bush” – I was in disco heaven and the party was heaving. He then took it down a notch with the rather marvellous and  soulful Mavis ft Candi Staton “Revolution”. Some Ashford and Simpson, Patti Labelle and another floor filler Third Worlds “Now That We’ve Found Love”. Exhausted from dancing we left at 11.45pm.

Why was it special? No one was drunk, there were no drugs, free ice water all night, food, the right attitude, a great lofty warehouse venue, balloons, happy people, but most of all the music – just fantastic record after fantastic record. A proper  journey through dance music history.

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