After Dark

l-r: Harold Dow, Andy Warhol, Valentino, Liz Taylor, Norman Dow

Discos may sometimes be perceived as garish and frivolous, but they were the voice of a generation. In the early ‘70s, several years before the national disco craze started, disco patrons were diverse – perhaps more so than at any other purely social happening. Many of those early patrons embraced discos with a rarely seen fervor.

I was part of a social club called “The Best of Friends” that started promoting discotheques in midtown Manhattan in 1971. Our first disco was at the Ginza every Thursday night. The experience was special because our DJs did something that our patrons had never experienced before: they blended one record into another so that dancers didn’t miss a step from song to song. Combined with ever-changing colored lights and the welcoming atmosphere we created, the experience proved to be euphoric. It was an anomaly. Patrons came from all parts of society. We had CEOs and mailroom clerks, rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight.

Eventually, we built five discotheques in New York City. Leviticus, Justine’s, and Bogard’s were among the first black-owned clubs in midtown Manhattan. We also owned Lucifer’s in Queens and Brandi’s in Brooklyn. These discos attracted everyone, from Madonna to Arthur Ashe, from Rick James to Elizabeth Taylor. Our crowd was primarily African American, but we also had Latinos, whites, and Asians.

This amalgamation of humanity interacted heavily with each other. Many guests danced with people they didn’t know, which made the experience fresh and exciting. Everyone got along without judgment. The vibe we created could benefit the strained relations in our society today. Factors like race, religion, or station in life, become irrelevant on the dance floor. Many of our patrons became best friends, business partners, and even spouses.

For more insights, read After Dark: Birth of the Disco Dance Party. It’s available wherever books are sold. #disco #Leviticus #nightclubs #musicbusiness