In the same way that images from pop culture can present you with a degree of seeming familiarity with New York City without ever actually stepping in a Chinatown puddle, waiting in vain for the 7 train, or inhaling the steam rising out from a manhole cover in Midtown, I knew about David Mancuso’s The Loft before I knew anything about The Loft. At the turn of the century, a tip on a message board from New York DJ Dan Selzer mentioned that the best way to hear the music of a neglected dance producer named Arthur Russell would be via a compilation called David Mancuso Presents the Loft. Situated in the heart of Texas at the time, I special ordered the set from a CD store, waited three weeks for it to arrive, and then experienced a strain of leftfield disco far removed from the “Jammin’ Oldies” rotation. The fact that The Loft parties were ground zero for modern dance music was an epiphany, as was learning that Mancuso’s intent involved reenacting the joys of childhood—early fliers often depicted scenes from “The Little Rascals”—to frame a sense of innocent wonder amid the dangerous climes of NYC in the early 1970s.
Within a year, I was in the city myself, but it would be almost a decade before I experienced The Loft in the flesh. Recently, Mancuso’s Loft resurfaced in two different ways. New York’s long-running Beats in Space radio show invited Douglas Sherman (who now helms The Loft parties, thrown semi-annually at the Ukrainian National Home) and The Loft Crew into the studio for a live mix. And out at MoMA PS1, the West Village-based White Columns Gallery hosted a party for the release of visual artist Martin Beck’s new book, Last Night.