Essential Reading: Love Saves the Day, Tim Lawrence (2004)
We’re gathered here today to put a start to a new section on this website dedicated to reading. As fans, who are genuinely interested in dance music history, culture and context, both Nevy and I often end up at the book shelves of music stores and sharing our reading lists with you seems just as important as sharing our playlists.
What better way to kick off this new section than with Tim Lawrence’s mind-blowingly impressive ‘Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979’.
Now don’t be fooled by the decade – this is not a book about disco. This is proper scholarly research – a definitive account of a most influential era, a crucial and meticulously detailed description of the formation and changings, the ups and downs, the underground and the eventually commercialized faces of people and events who laid the groundwork of dance music culture the way we know it today.
‘Love Saves the Day’ is a text as fundamental as its protagonists.
Named after his seminal Valentine’s Day party, the book’s narrative is constructed around David Mancuso and The Loft. That’s no wonder having in mind that Mancuso and his unassuming Loft are the original source and inspiration for every cult record, venue, DJ, artist and even technological advances to come out of the West Coast at the time (and to keep coming to this day!).
From the central pillar that is The Loft, we then continue to get to know its inhabitants – the figures we now call Fathers and Godfathers at a time when they were still just kids, a bunch of socially oppressed outcasts searching for a community to call their own.
Be aware that ‘Love Saves the Day’ is not a light read – you will absolutely have to think and remember things in the process of reading and even go back to re-read passages when needed. The level of detail makes the book a very complex experience – not unlike its topic of exploration – and you really need to make an effort to follow it.
But, mark my word, only a couple of pages into the first chapter you will be so hooked that you won’t mind. In fact, Tim Lawerence himself perfectly describes it as a ‘somewhat obsessional 500-page book’ and I guarantee that this refers not only to the author’s thoroughly precise research and fetching writing style, but also to the reader’s devotion to take in as much as possible.
I conducted my own research when I gave it to my girlfriend to read. ‘Somewhat obsessional‘ in deed.
I could try to get into more detail, I could pull out some quotes, I could go into a mad soap box tirade about history, race, sexuality and context but I won’t. Or I could make a sad attempt to fleetingly mention some key figures and venues that are history, in and of themselves – Nicky Siano and The Gallery, Francis Grasso and The Sanctuary, Larry Levan and The Paradise Garage, Frankie Knuckles and The Warehouse…. but that would be in vain.
What I will say, and please imagine me saying it with intimidating determination, is that you need to read ‘Love Saves the Day’. Because we’re nothing without our history and dance music has a history that is as uplifting as it is tragic. It’s shaped by people who managed to rise above a world that consistently told them No but some eventually fell prey to a few of the Yes’s. It’s a history of innovation and musical honesty, a history of idealistic naïveté and subsequent exploitation, a history of emotions and highly specific circumstances illustrated by records and the people who played them.
It is a history that should be studied, understood and never forgotten.
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