The Forging of a White Gay Aesthetic at the Saint, 1980–84

  • Tim Lawrence University of East London
Keywords: Saint, DJs, New York, whiteness, neoliberalism, AIDS, club culture, dance culture, gay, race, sexuality


Based on original interviews with key protagonists and documentary research, the article examines the way in which the DJs who worked at the Saint forged a white gay aesthetic across the first half of the 1980s. A private party located in the East Village, New York, the Saint attracted a privileged white male crowd, and this group's position within the emerging culture of neoliberalism, along with the deepening impact of the AIDS epidemic, encouraged its spinners to sever their ties with sounds that were associated with blackness. However, if Saint DJs rejected a high proportion of records that were being released by New York's independents, and also snubbed Chicago house when it broke in 1985, their forging of an aesthetic that emphasised seamless transitions, often between records that contained similar sonic qualities, preempted the style of mixing that would be popularised in house music culture.

Author Biography

Tim Lawrence, University of East London
Tim Lawrence is the author of Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-79 (Duke University Press, 2003) and Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-92 (Duke University Press, 2009). He is a Reader in Cultural Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of East London, and is a founding member of Lucky Cloud Sound System and the Centre for Cultural Studies Research.
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