Underground disco legend Nicky Siano DJs aboveground Disco nightclub.
David Mancuso’s the Loft, an invite-only event hosted at various spaces throughout downtown Manhattan, was the supreme underground-dance party in New York City during the early 1970s, and Nicky Siano was one of its biggest fans. Mancuso had the best sound system and DJ equipment, which made the records he played—everything from Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” to Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa”—pop and resonate like never before. When Siano opened the Gallery, a club deeply inspired by the Loft, he reinterpreted Mancuso’s aesthetic to match his own sound: one more indebted to soul and funk, harder edged and faster paced. The Gallery was so popular that it attracted diehard fans—two of them, Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan, both worked at the venue and were mentored there before going on to become the godfathers of house and disco, respectively. Your best bet for approaching Siano’s style is the slick 2004 compilation Nicky Siano’s Legendary ‘The Gallery’: The Original New York Disco 1973-1977 (Soul Jazz), which is unmixed but sequenced to approximate the Gallery experience.