This has turned out to be one of the darkest years in recent memory. Too many dear relatives and loved friends passed away (Helen Lane, David Lane, Jonny Zucker and David Mancuso) as did the only pop icon who changed my life (David Bowie). The rise of the nationalist right in Europe and the US threw up troubling parallels with the 1930s. When I devoted half of my summer to writing an article about the massacre of 49 dancers at Pulse, Orlando, http://bit.ly/2iAzBqT, I came to understand that 2016 would be a year that offered no straightforward escape. Yet I also got to spend the other half of the summer preparing for the publication of Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, and although there were times when I wondered if I could keep on top of it all, that work along with the example set by Pulse co-founder Barbara Pomo reminded me that life definitionally counters death and hope can never be extinguished.
Having wondered if anyone would bother to read a 600-page book that analyses a four-year window in one city’s history, I ended up participating in some 35 launch events in Berlin, Bochum, Hamburg, Ithaca, London, Manchester, New Haven and New York and Offenbach. Meanwhile reviews and features appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Guardian, Paper Magazine and a bunch of other publications that had never quite registered my work before. “I think this may be the definitive Bible for NYC and dance music during that era,” Man Parrish wrote in an email. “Your book taught me about my own childhood!” Sasha Frere-Jones mentioned in another. “You’re book is a wonderful gift,” added John Robie in a third—by which point I was feeling pretty good about the way it was all going down.
Yet it’s been the reader response—a response expressed in so many different settings—that has really blown me away. Social media has played a very full part, with Patty Chase’s hot-off-the-press picture of the test samples of Life and Death beginning a surge of accumulating connectivity. Yet the on-line activity has always been looped into the physical, with hundreds upon hundreds of readers showing up to events, bringing books to sign, contributing to discussions and, on a several occasions, sharing dance floor moves.
Piotr Orlov even suggested in the Guardian that the book launch activity was feeding into the bounce back of NYC party culture, http://bit.ly/2g4S8hl.
Much of the activity has taken place in independent bookstores, record shops and party spaces, and it’s been one of the great pleasures of the publication period to connect with the people who run these ventures as well as the communities that gather within. It’s with this in mind that I wanted to end the year by posting some of the photos that readers have taken of the book or that I've taken of readers during the last couple of months. They’ve contributed to turning the release of Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor into a shared, public experience that has been heartwarming, inspiring and perhaps even fitting given the content matter of the book
Thank you, then, to all the good people who have supported the book. I hope you find yourselves in good company this evening as well as for the whole of the coming year.