I had the pleasure of viewing the Cool “Disco” Dan documentary presented by MOCATV last week. The documentaries executive producer, Roger Gastman, is a notable Street Art aficionado and co-curator of the seminal Art in The Streets exhibit and has published many significant works documenting the history of graffiti & street art.
Cool “Disco” Dan was quite the cultural phenomenon in Washington, DC and his legendary contributions to the city were very well depicted. Dan’s graffiti work began during the Go-Go music scene in the 70′s and he was one of the first graffiti artists to actively spray paint his recognizable name all over the DC metro area for years to come turning him into a DC legend & cult icon. Dan was not associated with any gang or crew but others did follow suit and began spray-painting their Go-Go names or “Crew” names alongside his work. His basic & simple style of graffiti evoked heartfelt emotions throughout the generations in DC providing a sense of continuity and comfort in an otherwise violent & changing city in a very bizarre & fascinating way.
The film depicts a very dark & intriguing tale of the evolution of DC landscapes with correlations between the political events, music scene, art scene, and drug scene that struck down the city. Cool “Disco” Dan always seems to keep his cool throughout & remains an urban legend blessing the streets with his positive & absurdly ambiguous message.
The whole phenomenon he created is quite quite fascinating, especially the fact that Cool “Disco” Dan was never on drugs or alcohol, nor part of any “Crews” or gangs. He was very introverted & socially awkward, but obsessed with fame & recognition and this was his way of expressing himself to the community he lived in.