Nicky Siano Talks His Cinematic Exploration of New York's '70s Dance Scene 'Love Is the Message'

Nicky Siano Talks His Cinematic Exploration of New York's '70s Dance Scene 'Love Is the Message'
While the early to mid-'70s New York proto-disco revolution remains one of the most posthumously celebrated scenes in music history, little, if any, key film footage of the period has seen the light of day. Fans should be ecstatic to hear, then, that legendary DJ Nicky Siano has unveiled his new two-disc DVD, Love Is the Message, which documents a night at the storied Gallery dance club in 1977.

"When all the filming was done, there was no such thing as video," Siano tells Exclaim! "My cousin who had started the whole project — he couldn't spend any more money. No one could see past the raw footage, no one could see the possibilities that were there, except me. No one was interested in it until 1998, when I started to play records again."

What followed was a painstaking process involving digitization, editing and song clearances that cost upwards of $100,000 and allows an intimate look into the New York dance underground. A movement shaped by the triumphs of Stonewall, the civil rights movement and anti-war protests, it's all soundtracked by the most soulfully innovative grooves of the period — featuring such classics as MFSB's "Love Is the Message," Double Exposure's "My Love Is Free" and an appearance by the late Loleatta Holloway — all delivered at the crucial junction when the DJ culture was coming into its own as an artistic pursuit.

"I was so young when all that was happening," recalls Siano. "What I felt was that the environment created a space for people wanting to party the way that they wanted. It was a celebration of all that we had accomplished.

"I didn't want my film to be a history lesson. What I wanted my film to be was an experience. I wanted people to think, 'Shit, I wish I was there.' Or for the people that were there to think, 'Shit, that was a hot place and that was a great scene.' To get more of the experience instead of having all talking heads doing a history lesson. I wanted a little bit of a set-up, then experience of what the club was like."

Interviews with the Loft's David Mancuso, Frankie Knuckles (who, sadly, recently passed away at the age of 59) and Siano are featured as extras on the second disc.

Watch a trailer for Love Is the Message below and order it on DVD here.

Read our full interview with Siano here.