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Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983 by Tim Lawrence

Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983 by Tim Lawrence

£22.99Price

As the 1970s gave way to the 80s, New York's party scene entered a ferociously inventive period characterized by its creativity, intensity, and hybridity. Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor chronicles this tumultuous time, charting the sonic and social eruptions that took place in the city's subterranean party venues as well as the way they cultivated breakthrough movements in art, performance, video, and film. Interviewing DJs, party hosts, producers, musicians, artists, and dancers, Tim Lawrence illustrates how the relatively discrete post-disco, post-punk, and hip hop scenes became marked by their level of plurality, interaction, and convergence.

He also explains how the shifting urban landscape of New York supported the cultural renaissance before gentrification, Reaganomics, corporate intrusion, and the spread of AIDS brought this gritty and protean time and place in American culture to a troubled denouement.

 

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"Lawrence goes into remarkable depth to portray this world which, during its few short years, gained expansive popularity and had a significant impact on art, film, literature, and culture. His meticulous research, with details on the leading figures, trends, events, places, and music that made it all happen, also provides critical/analytical commentary on the social backdrop of the times, the genesis of the emerging and eclectic music/dance styles, and the essence of this artistic renaissance. In addition to the well-selected photographs, notes, and bibliography, set lists, discographies, and a filmography add to the title's impressive breadth. Cultural historians and those familiar with the 1980s milieu will find this informative and insightful." — Carol J. Binkowski,  Library Journal

 

"Life and Death provides the most intensive mapping of this brief era of New York subculture we've yet seen. The book's strength is its depth of research, drawing on the realtime journalism of the era as well as many new interviews. The detail is fascinating, as Lawrence salvages ephemeral events, forgotten people, and lost places from the fog of faded memory." — Simon Reynolds,  Bookforum

 

"[A] compelling tale, beautifully told. As one who was fortunate enough to have landed in New York during this timeframe, Lawrence does a cracking job capturing a time when even listening to the city’s black radio stations at noon could change your life. It was a surreal, magical period of ground-breaking activity which now seems hard to believe could actually happen at the same time in the same city. Finally, here’s the proof." — Kris Needs, Record Collector

 

"With an academic thoroughness coupled with a deep personal love of dance and the culture that surrounds it, [Lawrence has] made a priceless contribution to our understanding of this critical juncture for clubs and the music played in them. Complete with playlists from Mancuso, Levan, Kamins, Sarko and Thode plus others including Afrika Bambaaataa and François Kevorkian, this is a must for DJs, dance music devotees and cultural anthropologists alike – Tim has dug real deep and his book gushes with a wealth of previously hidden information and anecdote." — Greg Wilson 

 

"Through a comprehensive and lushly detailed text stuffed with original photos from dance floors, DJ booths, and parties, Lawrence imparts the mood, the music, the faces and the places from that remarkable era, with a nostalgic nod to nights where 'a new kind of freedom was set to rule the night.' ... Dance music historians will want this book for reference, while others who recall these days with a sense of longing will close its covers and dream of the days when nightlife amounted to a line of cocaine, a Madonna remix, and a dark, packed dance floor in a basement club in the Village."   — Jim Piechota,  Bay Area Reporter

 

"Exceptionally accessible (the author’s passion for his subject shows through on every page; it’s easy to imagine how his knowledge and genuine interest opened many a door and got people talking, telling tales recorded here that might not otherwise have seen the light of day), the raw, new energy of the city is accurately captured and conveyed. No small feat.... Seriously, when’s the last time you read a book you could actually dance to?"  — Tom Cardamone,  Lambda Literary Review

 

"[I]f you have no abiding love for New York, disco, hip-hop, studio techniques, or fast and dirty real-estate shuffles—there must be such people, statistically—perhaps Life and Death on the New York Dance Floorwill not hold you. But if you care for any of those things, and even if that concern borders on the obsessive, you will benefit from Lawrence’s investigations."  — Sasha Frere-Jones,  The New Yorker

 

"The cast of characters in the book can be staggering, the exhaustive accounts overwhelming — Lawrence interviewed or corresponded with more than 130 people, and he makes room for their voices — but that's part of the point: He wants a crowded and motley party. This is a scrupulously researched, marvelously detailed history." — Megan Pugh, Village Voice

 

"The focus here is clearly music. Mr. Lawrence even includes some D.J. playlists for the listener to investigate. But Life and Death is more expansive than that — it takes you deep into a time and place, the good-old-bad-old-days of pre-Rudolph Giuliani New York, which many have valorized for some time now. If the 1970s have been thoroughly examined, the early ’80s have been left relatively unexplored, and while Mr. Lawrence provides a lot of minutiae, he also delivers a story with some sweep." — Michaelangelo Matos,  New York Times

 

"[O]ffers fresh detail and insight on the clubs, DJs, parties and recordings that emerged from the scene. He even offers DJ playlists from different clubs." — Andy Beta,  Wall Street Journal

 

"Tim Lawrence's Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 1980-1983, the definitive history of that fabled time in the city, is already taking on the status of a sacred text." — David Hershkovits,  Paper Magazine

 

"The book does not disappoint. I’m not alone in saying that Lawrence has written one of the most comprehensive and exhaustively researched books about this vitally important period in New York’s history." — Paul Hallasy,  The Gay Curmudgeon blog

 

"Reading Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor as a clubber in the city is to reflect not only on what’s been lost over the past three decades, but on how the sounds, events and characters at the center of Lawrence’s story still influence NYC’s nightlife. . . . [W]hat Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor makes acutely obvious, as both volume and prism, is not just the cultural value of the city’s party scene, but how it also serves as a moral compass – and how it still can." — Piotr Olov,  The Guardian

 

  • Details

    Imprint: Duke University Press

    Publication Date: 30 September 2016

    ISBN: 9780822362029

    Pages: 600

    Type: Paperback, 115 B&W photos

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