Listening Session: Seeing Through Flames: Love Saves the Day by Tim Lawrence

A black and white image of a large crowd of people in a disco hall
Image Credit: Bill Bernstein, Paradise Garage, 1979
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The study sessions are informal discussion groups. Seeing Through Flames is a series of auditory assemblages that turn listening into a collective channel of exchange. These sessions open out the ideas and themes of our research strand, Emergency & Emergence, and survey different possibilities of forming solidarity through sound and music.

Seeing Through Flames convenes diverse practitioners, united by themes of adaptability and remediation via trans-mediatic storytelling, and the conscious renegotiation of our relationships with nature. The series investigates speculative timelines in order to provoke and think through ways of being in the world, against contemporary planetary capitalism.

By looking at politics of spiritual transformation and collective imagination, these study-as-listening sessions explore the potential for the poetic and vibrational undoing of the knowledge that underpins concepts of the dominant modes of being, as well as the oppression those modes create to make ourselves and our planet anew.

This informal session will explore the sonic and social legacy of David Mancuso’s Loft, the influential invitation-only, audiophile community party that came into being on Valentine’s Day 1970, sometimes referred to as the Love Saves the Day party.

Led by Tim Lawrence, the session will explore the influence of David and his figuring of the Loft as a uniquely utopian space driven by music, dance, stereo sound and, for those who wanted to partake, a tab of acid. It will be argued that from the beginning of 1970 onwards, David made a decisive contribution to the establishment of a new form of music making or musicianship that embodied the countercultural period in a far more advanced way than many other musical genres such as acid rock and progressive rock.

Why was it so important for David to reproduce sound accurately? How did the experience of listening adapt to this situation and how did it affect the modes of behaviour? Why does the Loft continue to resonate today? What are we holding on to and why?

About the event


Limited Capacity.

Booking is required.

We are unable to provide British Sign Language interpretation for this event.


Find information about getting here and our building access and facilities here.

There are no audio descriptions for this event.

If you have any questions around access or have specific access requirements we can accommodate, please get in touch with us by emailing

Safety during your visit

Due to COVID precautions, please do not attend this event if you/someone in your household is currently COVID-19 positive, has suspected symptoms, or is awaiting test results.

Please observe social distancing where possible.

Staff and visitors are welcome to wear a face mask in all areas.

You can find more details about how we're keeping everyone safe here.

Tim Lawrence is the author of Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970, as well as Hold on to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992 and Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983. Tim is a founding co-partner of Lucky Cloud Sound System, which co-hosted Loft-style parties with David Mancuso in London since 2003 and has continued in David’s absence. In 2018 he started a Loft-inspired offshoot party, All Our Friends, where he also DJs. A professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London, he also co-hosts Love Is the Message, a podcast about music, the dance floor and counterculture, available via Patreon and all major podcast outlets. He is currently writing an oral history of David Mancuso and the Loft, 1944-2016.

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