I read the rather excellent book Love Saves The Day: A History Of American Dance Music Culture 1970-1979 by Tim Lawrence last year. Scattered throughout it are representative playlists of the music particular DJs would have played at a specific club in a specific year. While I was reading it, I bored people with snippets of information about the DJs and clubs and Youtube videos of some of the musical gems. I thought I’d collect these together and expand the text a little in order to bore a wider audience.
In part 3, we find ourselves in the mid 1970s as the pioneering clubs are starting to be replaced by a new wave of bigger and more mainstream venues.
Flamingo was opened in Manhattan in 1974 by Michael Fesco, who had been running successful venues on Fire Island for the last few summers. Flamingo was very white and very gay – unlike the mixed (in both senses) clubs that had pioneered disco in Manhattan. The theatrical presentation and carefully-controlled exclusivity helped keep Flamingo at the forefront the Manhattan gay scene for the rest of the decade. The opening night DJ was Armando Galvez and this was in his record crate at the time. But honestly, I was just looking for an excuse to play some Disco-Tex And The Sex-O-Lettes.
12 West was the hottest new disco of 1975 and yet another club which paid homage to The Loft. But where David Mancuso’s club The Loft avoided labels (“The Loft wasn’t gay. The Loft wasn’t anything.- David DePino”), 12 West definitely catered to a gay crowd and especially the S&M subculture. Resident DJ Tom Savarese would be voted both New York and National DJ of the year in the next couple of years. Betty Wright’s “Where Is The Love” was one of the hottest songs in this period, becoming a mainstream hit in the UK and winning a Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Song.
For various reasons, Walter Gibbons was never an acclaimed DJ but he was highly respected by the other DJs. He would take two copies of a track with a great drum break and seamlessly mix between them to extend the break up to five or ten minutes. Hip hop DJs such as Kool Herc were starting to do the same thing in the Bronx, but John Jellybean Benitez, who saw them both at work, thought Walter was far superior. Gibbons was also a great remixer and has the honour of creating the first track to be commercially released on 12″, “Ten Percent” by Double Exposure on Salsoul records. Previous 12″ singles had been DJ promo only.
Tom Savarese was replaced as resident at 12 West by Boston DJ Jimmy Stuard, who was great friends with top remixer Tom Moulton. So when Moulton produced a 19 minute “work in progress” acetate remix of Disco Inferno, it was to Stuard, and only Stuard, that he gave it to play. Moulton knew it was too long to release so he cut it down to under 11 minutes. That version became a club staple, was on The Trammps album and found its way in full onto the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The 19 minute version is still unreleased.
Sadly, Jimmy Stuard was in the habit of using the Everard Baths as a cheap place to sleep – DJ sleeping hours matching nicely the down time at a gay bathhouse – and died in the 1977 fire there which killed nine men in total.
[You can listen to the music from all the Love Saves The Day posts on this Youtube playlist.]