The legendary DJ tells the tale of his famed ’70s nightspot The Gallery: witnessing the beginning of disco and beyond.
No summary of New York City’s dance music history would be complete without Nicky Siano. As the owner and resident DJ at The Gallery, Nicky was electrified by a visit to The Loft and became hooked on New York’s emerging club culture of the 70s. As a DJ, Nicky Siano was not only one of the first to understand which tracks gave the right vibe, but also how to mix them together. He also pioneered DJing techniques such as beatmatching, EQing, and using three turntables, creating the proto-disco sound via his preferred funky soul and R&B records.
Leading the way for a host of legendary figures like Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles, or Grace Jones, and Loleatta Holloway, he laid down the blueprint for iconic New York clubs like The Garage and Studio 54. But Nicky wasn’t just confined to the club, and in 1977 he teamed up with Arthur Russell in the studio as Dinosaur, for one of his earliest records, “Kiss Me Again.” After a hiatus, Siano came back to DJing at Body and Soul for Larry Levan’s birthday celebrations in 1998, and now joins the dots between the hedonistic abandon of New York’s original dance culture, and today’s rave generation. His documentary film, Love Is the Message: A Night at The Gallery 1977 features a ton of great vintage footage and interviews. In this edited and condensed excerpt from his recent interview with RBMA Radio, Siano talks about the disco era and reveals an exceptional story about Larry Levan defending The Gallery from a potential robbery with a shotgun.