Monday, October 13, 2008
P4P Video - Maestro
This one's a special one. Maestro is a film by Josell Ramos that chronicles the early days of disco and dance music in New York City. It takes a look back at the underground scene that gave birth to disco and house music, chronicling legends like Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Frankie Knuckles and Tom Moulton and legendary places like Paradise Garage, The Gallery and The Loft. It's an amazing document, a chance to go back to the beginning of dance music and hear the stories from the people who were there. Ramos talks with Siano, Mancuso, Knuckles, dancers from back in the day, club staff, lighting men, sound engineers and others. Add in some great archival footage from the various clubs and you've got yourself a history lesson kids should be learning in school. It will show you just how important this music and scene was in the lives of so many people, who were able to find themselves and be themselves in an environment that strived to bring people together.
Here's the video for part 1 (there are 9 total parts) and anyone who reads the blog should consider this essential viewing:
It got me to thinking about the dance culture that existed back then, in the late 70s and 80s in New York City, and what things are like in the NYC of today. I try to avoid nostalgia, as it's such a corrosive and pointless emotion, usually based on rose-tinted glasses that never quite tell the whole story. But, it's hard not to feel like NYC today is missing something, something big. I'm not sure if it's the cabaret laws that have shut down so many clubs, if it's the yuppification of Manhattan, if it's the fact that gay culture doesn't have to be underground anymore, if it's the fault of bloggers like me who talk about everything and prevent any underground from really developing, if it's the insane cost of living or a combination of all of those factors. Whatever it is, I feel like club life in NYC is at a nadir, more about being seen or making money than telling a story or celebrating music. Am I being too pessimistic? Am I missing something? Leave some comments and let me know your thoughts, as I want to be so wrong.