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It started somewhat humbly on Saturday, Feb. 14, 1970. Valentine's Day.
David Mancuso, a 25-year-old upstate-to-New-York transplant, was in need of money to pay the landlord of his downtown Manhattan loft, not yet The Loft, at 647 Broadway. A rent party, in the tradition of Great Migration-era Harlem sessions that involved music, dancing, and a donation to help the host make that month's ends meet, seemed about right. Especially as Mancuso was well-equipped to throw such an event; even then, he was innately attuned to the ingredients needed to foster the right atmosphere for a good party.
One needed music, of course — Mancuso had been a record collector since his teens, also becoming an accidental hi-fi stereo enthusiast by purchasing his first set of Klipschorn speakers, (handmade, audiophile catnip since 1946) when he was 21. One also needed a nice cross-section of people, enough to turn it into a happening — and having grown up in a Utica orphanage, Mancuso was adept at making connections in whatever milieu he found himself in. Often, that milieu was other private dance parties in people's homes all over the city, which he thought "more intimate [than bars and clubs] and you would be among friends... get to know people and develop relationships," as he told author Tim Lawrence many years later. Mancuso was also attracted to the psychedelic crowd of the nearby East Village, where he became friendly with, among others, LSD guru Timothy Leary, whose study groups ingrained in him not only ideas about psychedelic spirituality, but social progress. And contrary to popular history's later segregation of disco dancers and hippie rock freaks, Mancuso tuned them all in.
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