We have a lot of retrospectives, a lot of interviews, a lot of tributes and talismans of respect paid forward but not so many primary documents of the underground disco scene at its peak in New York City. They say that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”, and sometimes it seems downright absurd how few moving pictures really exist of a scene that poured the foundations for the guidance force of the music of our lives.
Which is what makes Love Is The Message, presented by the one and only Nicky Siano, all the more extraordinary. It’s a film recorded in 1977 at New York’s GALLERY that has somehow never seen the light of day, sitting “in a garage” (no pun intended, of course) until now. Nicky himself just posted a draft of the cover art for the DVD (featuring Nicky, Frankie Knuckles and David Mancuso inset photos), and… well let’s let the man take it away:
FINALLY, the movie shot at THE GALLERY more then thirty years ago is about to be released.
In 1977, 12 students from the world famous film school, Tisch University at NYU, were invited to a party, just a short walk from the university at Washington Square Park, to the Gallery on Mercer and Houston. The streets of Soho were empty during the seventies, it was a manufacturing district, and at 5PM you couldn’t find a store open for MILES. It was a different time, New York City was just beginning to spread her wings as the world capital she has become. The World Trade Center had opened only a few years earlier.
The twelve from Tisch arrived outside the Gallery just before midnight one Saturday. They joined the line of guests wrapped around the corner, some holding invitations tightly between their fingers. Transient young men and woman walked up and down the line, “can you bring me in as your guest” they begged of the invitation holders on line.
Gary Turzilli, my cousin, was at the door collecting money from entrants, one of his many duties as general manager. During the day, he was a student at the Tisch school, and he had invited his classmates to the party, where he believed, they would find an experience ripe to be documented on film…the absolute insanity of the birth of the seventies dance scene, the very beginnings of disco, where every dancer would scream so loud, the $30,000 sound system was often drowned out by the fanfare.
As they walked up to the first check point, they were asked for their invitation.
“Sorry we don’t have a card. We are guests of Gary Turzilli.”
“NAMES,” Joel the doorman blurted, picking up the pad where staff had scribbled their guest’s names. Joel waved them in, and Gary greeted them warmly…as he greeted each and every entrant to the Gallery, because the Gallery was not a club, it was our HOME, and each friend who came to see us was a very special guest.
The 12 walked around the first barrier to see a full table of food and drink, laid out for all to enjoy, without paying. Two grabbed peaches as they walked further into the room. A wall stood before them, and beyond it, they could hear low jazz music. The walked around the wall. It took a moment for their eyes to adjust to the mellow lighting, but they could clearly see a HUGE mirrored ball hanging in the center of the room, with its spots gleaming on every wall. The ball was not turning, YET, but someone jumped up and pushed it slightly, and the spots swayed over the walls.
They looked up, and were astonished by the height of the ceiling, 30 feet at least, with balloons filing the space above them. Suddenly the music changed, a funkier dance song began, and people started hollering, whistles blew, tambourines began to play, and as if out of thin air, people gathered on the empty dance floor, ready to begin their night.
I turned on the tweeters as the break down of the song unfolded and everyone screamed at once. It was in those few moments that the 12 knew they would spend the next 8 months filming this event…a 16mm film which cost over $50,000 was shot, and never released. It sat in a garage, until NOW!
According to Nicky, the film is near release (and the cover art is subject to some changes, so don’t get carried away yet). You can likely find out more closer to the date at nickysiano.com.