After Dark: Birth of the Disco Dance Party
After Dark: Birth of the Disco Dance Party is foremost about the music; music has some magical capability to change people and situations for better or worse. In the 1960s, a group of friends discovered their love of music and affinity to throw standing-room-only parties. Told by Noel Hankin, a founding member of the future group “The Best of Friends” (TBOF), he recalls the good and bad times of the group and how they became a mega-success in New York City.
Hankin recalls house parties that he frequented and then eventually hosted during his college years. To hear Hankin relive those parties, as well as the more elaborate ones they held in their nightclubs, is much different from parties today. From this reviewer’s perspective, modern parties are drug, alcohol, and sex-laden across the board, and to a point, it was similar back in the 1960s as well. For TBOF, they enforced a more conservative business stance for their parties, focusing on dancing, music, socializing, and appearance; for this reviewer, that was refreshing to read. TBOF was astonishingly apt for having little-to-none business experience; they had a personal connection with their audience and appropriate social skills that got them far in their careers. Reading how they conducted their businesses was inspiring for my personal life.
After college for TBOF, they began hosting more elaborate parties and realized that they had a knack for knowing the right kinds of music to play to keep the momentum going. In the 1960s and ’70s in New York City, life was much different from currently; criminals ran rampant, and racism more freely displayed. In light of the hard times New York City faced during these decades, TBOF monopolized on the unfortunate and made a name for themselves in the nightclub industry, meeting and namedropping many well-known celebrities and musicians. The story of going to Barbra Streisand’s party was something you don’t hear about too often.
The way that Hankin wrote in After Dark the sentences flowed smoothly and were picturesque while taking you back in time to a memorable time for not just blacks, but everyone in New York City. Hankin wrote with what sounded to be complete honesty of himself and his friends in TBOF without sugar-coating experiences. Based on situations, circumstances, and people involved in their nightclubs, they are lucky to be alive; their character traits are top-notch and are never “old-fashioned.” A compelling part of the book is when Hankin describes the music and how black people had an instrumental role in creating disco music; this was new to me. I felt like I couldn’t get enough of this book and felt proud of TBOF’s accomplishments.
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