It’s hard to imagine now, but twenty years ago, subculture was truly underground. Director Joseph Pattisall and Producer Roger Gastman (Exit from the Gift Shop, Swindle, The History of American Graffiti) captured the exciting, and often sad, D.C. subculture of the 1980s in the premiere of their newest documentary: The Legend of Cool “Disco” Dan and corresponding art exhibit Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s.
The weekend started with Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s, an art exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery. Go-Go, graffiti and punk rock were the focus but D.C.’s history wasn’t neglected. While Junkyard was banging on buckets and Mayor for Life Marion Barry was insisting the “bitch set me up” D.C. was cracking under the effects of crack cocaine and becoming the nation’s Murder Capital. The exhibit was full of iconic Globe Posters, clothing, photos and videos.
The next night, The Legend of Cool “Disco” Dan premiered with Director Joseph Pattisall, Producer Roger Gastman, Narrator Henry Rollins, Graffiti historian Caleb Neelon and many of the films interviewees on hand for a lively Q&A.
The film’s main focus was on Danny Hogg, aka Cool “Disco” Dan. Dan believed that if people knew his name he would be famous, so he wrote it everywhere—on buses, underpasses, buildings and more. He was right. Today with the abundance of reality TV and people being famous for no real reason; Dan stands out as ahead of his time. Hearing how Dan’s prolific tagging affected the city was just as interesting as hearing from Dan himself. It’s amazing how one man with a can of spray paint had such an impact on a city imploding from the inside.
This is much more than a movie about one tagger. This is a movie about an important moment in the history of our nation’s capital as well as big issues; including, mental illness, poverty, drugs, crime, class differences, politics and fame; yet, it’s never heavy handed.