A Tribute To Paradise Garage

A Tribute To Paradise Garage - Saturday 9th July - Gwdihw, Cardiff

We pay homage to New York’s most legendary nightclub and resident DJ, Larry Levan.

Originally, the ‘disco’ scene was far from a homogeneous, definable form. It was anything people would dance to: rock, Latin, soul, funk, rhythm and blues. It was a small, close-knit world and the dancers’ togetherness, their sense of redemption, their feelings of escape from a racist and homophobic reality. More than anything, disco was driven by an underground idea of unity.

Larry Levan was an early child of this scene. He danced in its clubs, he learnt from its originators, and he joined a growing band of DJs who were filling New York with thrilling, loving music. And later, in his own club, The Paradise Garage (as mainstream disco was declared dead in the late 70s) he took it underground, nurtured and developed it and allowed it to take its first steps as something new.

Paradise Garage at 84 King Street, in Hudson Square, NYC operated from 1977 to 1987. It was one of the few clubs in New York which the gay, and predominantly African-American and Latino, patrons could genuinely call their own. The Garage was a place for people that were not accepted in society, a place from them to be free, to be who they are. 

House music as a genre has origins with Larry Levan and his contemporaries, Frankie Knuckles and Nicky Siano. These DJs played all kinds of music. The Garage shaped club culture as we know it today. As well as DJs, artists also performed there, including: Grace Jones, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Karen Young, Colonel Abrams and more. Some famous acts like Gwen Guthrie actually started their careers on that stage.

One thing was never in doubt: this was where you found the city’s most devoted clubbers: kids who danced for seven, eight hours, or more every week. They knew the records that were played, they screamed with excitement for their favourites. There was no attitude at The Garage, no cliques defined by their muscles, no fashion victims, no A-list. These people were dancers and this is what made the atmosphere so electrifying – it was driven by the energetic input of its clubbers. The intensity of the disco pyrotechnics was unlike anything anywhere. Venturing onto the dance floor was like swimming into an undertow – you were sucked into the vortex, and you surrendered, for hours at a time.

DJs: Dave Little (Melange), Andy Rich (Blue Honey), Van Pelt (Rotary Club) and Miles Day (Sure Shot) select their favourite Paradise Garage and Larry Levan cuts - all night long

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