Early New York City nightlife—especially at institutions like Danceteria, Studio 54, Paradise Garage and The Loft—is still a popular subject for historians and writers more than 20 years later. But while many of these modern accounts analyze its influence in retrospect, DJ, Columbia University professor and writer Hilton Als‘ breaks New York nightlife down based on his own experiences in the scene during its 1990s peak.
In this recently re-run 1996 article in The New Yorker, When The Music Is You, Als describes the cult of the DJ in the New York City club circuit and some of the women who were beginning to break the male-only mold. He also discusses the intellectualism deeply embedded in vinyl culture and the role that club music played in forming identity on the dance floor. “Standing bent over turntables, lifting and putting down the silver arms, the DJs we knew looked like archaeologists digging through popular music in search of themselves,” he writes. “These were the DJs we liked best—the ones who were producing their autobiographies through the music they played.”
Read the article in full on The New Yorker site here. And if you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into ’90s club music, check out this guide to the 15 essential Wild Pitch remixes from house music’s golden years.
Picture by Michel Delsol