Book Review: Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem

Since moving to Harlem, I’ve leaned into my new neighborhood. Hard. I love the spirit and soul that oozes from the cracks in the sidewalk, and few people embody that spirit like Dapper Dan. When his memoir was released this winter, I knew I had to have it. I devoured, learning not just about a man who has lived an extraordinarily interesting life, but also about a neighborhood that, itself, is extraordinarily interesting.

Born in Harlem in a different era, Daniel Day remembers when women walked the streets in furs and men sold fish on the corner. He also remembers when drugs moved in and changed the fabric of the community, but a community it remained. He started making money running the dice game before eventually getting into fashion and turning it on its head. He is responsible for logomania and single-handedly created a new style.

Dapper Dan worked and innovated and established himself as a legend. Lately, there’s no red carpet that doesn’t feature at least one Dapper Dan original. He is admittedly not without fault, remaining open about his bout with drug abuse and infidelity, but there is no doubt he is an icon. I loved getting inside his head to get an idea of how, where, and why his brain was constantly looking for the next thing. I also appreciate that the book seemed to be written in his voice. I felt like I was sitting on a chair in his atelier, listening to the incredible story of his life and the life of Harlem.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Pair with: A watermelon cooler from Harlem Shake, which happens to be just down the block from Dapper Dan’s studio (and is one of my favorite things on their menu).