With heavy hearts, we are saddened to report that Danny Hogg, known worldwide as Cool “Disco” Dan, passed away on July 26, 2017 due to complications from diabetes.
Cool “Disco” Dan’s mythic graffiti signature was known well before coming to know him as a person. His signature really was mythic, with tall tales abounded about the Dan behind the name.
Mr. Hogg’s tag became an enduring symbol for a city that had endured a lot. He was at his most prolific in the late ’80s and early ’90s, an era when D.C. was known as the country’s “murder capital” and then-Mayor Marion Barry was arrested for using crack cocaine.
“When you think of D.C.’s turbulent times, what happened and where the city came from, he is an icon of that era,” said Roger Gastman, a documentary filmmaker who produced a movie, “The Legend of Cool ‘Disco’ Dan,” about Mr. Hogg and the D.C. street art scene. “There’s not many left. He’s a folk hero.”
Mr. Hogg grew up in Capitol Heights, Md., and spent most of his childhood drawing, said his mother, Denise Womack. He got his nickname from going to go-go shows, and spent his teenage years spray painting that name on buildings across the city.
Mr. Hogg stopped tagging in the early 2000s. But he experienced a bit of a comeback in 2013. That was the year Gastman’s documentary made its debut, and an increasingly gentrified D.C. experienced a collective nostalgia for the city’s bygone culture, but a sanitized version of it. Cool “Disco” Dan found his work displayed in the Corcoran Gallery of Art for “Pump Me Up,” a tribute to D.C.’s graffiti and go-go culture. It also briefly inspired the name of a doughnut shop, Cool “Disco” Donuts — which sparked an angry discussion about appropriation in a city where several white-owned restaurants are named after black artists.
Hogg’s friends who were present at the Fairfax County, Virginia group home where he resided until the time of his death, announced that a funeral service will be held in his memory this month.