Friday, October 21, 2016

Wide Boy Awake: Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 1980-1983

 Happy Friday! Here is an amazing track from 1982 by Wide Boy Awake inspired by the readings of Tim Lawrence's fabulous book  Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 1980-1983. The book is a thorough account about that pivotal and vibrant time period in NYC where art, music, nightlife and theater meshed together brilliantly creating such a seamless cultural mosaic.  At its core,  the book explores the synergistic communal party and the simultaneous places that sprouted creating a tsunami of new ideas out of the intrinsic need to create new idioms in the midst of a social-economic decaying landscape which ironically became the blueprint that set the stage for everything else that followed after during these dynamic three years in music and art in the city. A time when cultural elitism seemed to no longer play by the rules, where everything seemed possible, cross-pollination was encouraged while embracing diversity and validating the fringe as a force to reckon with.  The book is full of incredible well researched and beautifully written 600 pages giving the reader a real glimpse of what the city was like during a time where the dance floors became not just a place for escapism but a symbol of the ingenuity and purity of creation out of a need for something new and Utopian.
I was was fortunate to meet Tim during one of his events promoting the book at MoMa where they showed the film Downtown 81 followed by a panel consisting of legends such as Johnny Dynell, Fab Five Freddy, Ann Magnuson, Glenn O'Brien, Patti Astor and Michael Holman.  The book  it's such a fun read full of anecdotes from several players of that time ear and filled with amazing playlists.  I highly recommend it just like his other brilliant offerings such as Love Saves the Day and Hold On to your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992.  Thank you Tim signing the book and for being our very own cultural anthropologist.  Congratulations! I'm so looking forward to the house music one!

As someone who arrived in NYC in 1994 at a time where the city was undergoing another "evolution", where "post" everything seemed to permeate, real state was already taking over and "quality of life" was beginning to inject its venom. New York City downtown culture was already a global brand.  Yet the excitement of this tsunami was still showing its last rippling effects. Big clubs were still going strong, there was Body & Soul at Vinyl, Shelter, The Roxy, The Tunnel, Limelight, Palladium, the Sound Factory,  house music was at its commercial peak and you could go and listen to Frankie Knuckles on a Friday night and of course there was always Jackie 60 keeping the downtown torch alive!  The torch might dim at times yet it's still alive and thriving because it will always be essential to the life of New York City.

No comments:

Post a Comment