FoHDiary Day 8: Love Saved The Day
58 minutes ago the news broke that David Mancuso has passed away. The other day when I asked David Depino to explain the difference between garage and house his response was “well at the end of the day it’s all just dance music, disco. Really it’s all loft music. That’s what David started so we should really call it that”. I wish I were in New York right now. I’d have jumped on the subway up to 647 Broadway and hung out there all evening. The Loft. The first disco. Disco before discos even existed. Before the word was even a thing really. The source of it all. It’s difficult to compartmentalise such a small, communal thing like Mancuso’s Love Saves The Day parties. They’re so small but so influential that it seems to defy historical reference. All the music I make, so much of the music I love, and the reason I’m even here sat in a hotel room rambling off these thoughts, can be traced back to that shitty apartment block, that now hosts a deli and a shoe shop. And again I’m left wondering what value these spaces are to us. Do we need them? Should we mark them? Or are we being too precious? What certainly is clear, is that Mancuso deserves the same respect and reverence someone like Knuckles gets here in Chicago or the Beatles get in Liverpool. The man did something, a contribution that irrevocably changed the musical landscape. We salute you David.
It’s weird being here in Chicago now. Coming straight from dirty back streets in Hell’s Kitchen and the West Village to Chicago, with the spectre of Mancuso now looming, is strange. Chicago feels bigger, faster, more modern, cleaner and sleeker than New York. It’s a city with more easy self-confidence than NYC. It’s not brash, it’s not trashy, it’s just here and has decided to do the best it can. It’s no surprise something like Kapoor’s Cloud Gate is here (I refuse to call it “the bean”, it makes me nauseous). The city is built in the strangest surroundings. On the edge of the lake, and the lake being so huge it stretches to the horizon and blends into the sky. On a clear day like today you can’t see where the city, the lake, or the sky all end. They’re like one seamless continuous fade from one aspect into another. This place couldn’t be more different from New York.
That thing I was looking for is here. I think. It certainly feels that way. House music isn’t something people speak about in the past tense. It’s here, and living, and going on all the time. It’s not NYC and disco, it’s not something passed and gone only remaining as a memory. House is something alive in Chicago. That being said, there’s no money in the music. In a recent radio interview Marea Stamper aka The Black Madonna said there’s no money in this country for house musicians. DJs have to get on a plane to work Europe to make ends meet. Thats the same impression I got from Vince Lawrence this evening in a more fleshed out manner. House music is so integral to this city and it’s culture, yet from the outside no one cares. The scene is so locked into this city it doesn’t really penetrate beyond the city limits. When speaking to Vince he suggested names of people in the town that run parties and clubs, many of whom I was completely unfamiliar with. It’s a case of that “big fish small pond” scenario.
The weird part is that the scene here is almost secret, hidden from the outside world. House is very much of Chicago. If you look at Chicago from the outside you don’t see it, and it’s all you can see when you’re here on the ground. It’s impossible to argue that house’s influence isn’t incredibly wide-spread. But is it actually respected? Do we value it? I don’t ask this as a downer, I’m starting to properly love Chicago (and it’s bizarre accent), but the whole reason I’m here is to ask questions like these. I believe we should be valuing and respecting house music more, a sentiment echoed by many interviewees. A main driver for this project, and for this trip, is to somehow start to redress the balance in some small way. A small handful of others have tried but no one has redeemed it. Vince believes, as do many others, that house’s time will come again. And when it does we’ll hopefully be in a better position to appreciate it’s value and creativity.