Maestro, a feature documentary by Cuban-born Josell Ramos that attempts to chronicle the origin of dance music culture, forces the viewer to draw parallels between the past and the present. It does this not simply by comparing the golden spoons of disco's coke days to the Vicks inhalers of the raving beat-droppers of the Nineties, but by numerous interviews with what many consider to be clubland's first underground community of DJs, dancers, and party people. To see and hear these aging, drug-damaged pioneers talk about NYC's Paradise Garage or David Mancuso's The Loft seems more like a glimpse into the future than into the past. The fervor and jubilation in their voices and expressions eerily mirror that of a local club kid talking about Fort Lauderdale's Edge or Fever parties. The 90-minute documentary takes a dark turn when it examines the virtual obliteration of this scarcely legal scene composed of blacks, gays, and Latinos, owing to the proliferation of AIDS and the pitfalls of addiction. All in all, the film makes some bold claims and does more than an adequate job of backing them up. We could, however, do without the pseudocreative technique of interviewing people with only half their face in the shot.
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