Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor

A new book chronicles the lesser-known post-disco, post-punk and hip hop scenes from 1980 to 1983

Disco did not just transition directly into house. There was an in-between that came into fruition on New York dance floors.

Tim Lawrence’s book Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor provides a history on this period. Instead of following the rise of Chicago house and Detroit techno in the mid-1980s, or bridging disco to house, the book looks at the lesser-known post-disco, post-punk and hip hop scenes from 1980 to 1983.

It draws from years of research and hundreds of interviews with DJs, party hosts, producers, musicians, artists and dancers, resulting in an authoritative study of this riotously creative time in New York. Lawrence also explains how the shifting urban landscape of New York supported the cultural renaissance before gentrification, Reaganomics, corporate intrusion and the spread of AIDS brought it to close.

Tim Lawrence is professor of cultural studies at the University of East London. He is also the author of books including Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979 and Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992.

An interview with Lawrence is included in the current issue of Jocks & Nerds.