The Paradise Garage, also known as "the Garage" or the "Gay-rage", was a discotheque in New York City notable in the history of modern dance and pop music, as well as LGBT and nightclub cultures. It was founded by Michael Brody, its sole proprietor, and was located at 84 King Street in the SoHo neighborhood. It operated from 1977 to 1987 and was the base for resident DJ Larry Levan.
The club has been credited for its influence on the development of the modern dance club as it is in the 2000s; unlike other clubs of its time, the Paradise Garage was focused on dancing rather than verbal interaction, and it was the first to put the DJ at the center of attention. It was known for its enthusiastic, yet unforgiving nature if a performer was struggling. Among the notable musicians who performed there were Diana Ross and a young Madonna. In 1979, Tim Curry released the album Fearless, containing the single "Paradise Garage", whose lyrics narrate visiting the discotheque.
In April 2018, demolition on the former Paradise Garage site was completed.
The club's name derives from its origins as a parking garage. The Paradise Garage's business model was largely inspired by David Mancuso's private invitation-only DJ parties at The Loft in New York City, where no liquor was served, no food nor beverages were sold, and the club was not open to the general public.
The sound system was developed, designed, and installed by Richard Long of Richard Long & Associates (RLA), and was said by club patrons to be the best in New York City at that time. A distinctive style of dance music, known as garage house or simply "garage" or "house music", developed there.
Among those who benefitted from what became known as "The Garage Sound" or "Garage Music" was Mel Cheren, who owned the New York label West End Records. West End's successes included such hits as "Sessomatto" by Sessa Matto, "Hot Shot" by Karen Young, "Heartbeat" by Taana Gardner (remixed by Levan), "Do It to the Music" by Raw Silk, and "Don't Make Me Wait" by the Peech Boys (produced by Levan). West End Records folded for a number of years, then re-opened in the late 1990s and released one of Levan's DJ sets recorded live at the Garage.
The building which housed the Paradise Garage was later a facility for Verizon Communications.[when?] As of 2008, the Paradise Garage trademark is owned by Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).
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The unique and eclectic styles of disco and dance music played at the Garage gave rise to the descriptive terms "New York house", "garage", "garage style", and "garage classic" to describe a record that was made famous at or is associated with the Paradise Garage. When the term "garage music" is used in reference to the Paradise Garage, it does not exclusively mean house music.
House music as a genre originated with the Paradise Garage's house DJ Larry Levan and his contemporaries, Frankie Knuckles and Nicky Siano. These DJs played all kinds of music at the Paradise Garage so long as it was danceable; for example, The Clash and The Police, as well as traditional "disco" artists like Gwen Guthrie and Sylvester. Levan played music from different genres.
The term "garage music" has changed meaning over time; see UK garage for a more detailed description.
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Notable performers who have played the Paradise Garage include:
In popular culture
- On May 11, 2014, in an event organized by Red Bull Music Academy, former Paradise Garage DJ David DePino, his fellow Paradise Garage alum Joey Llanos, and the dance music DJ François Kevorkian paid tribute to both the Paradise Garage and the late Larry Levan with a block party located on the street outside the club's former entrance. The event was coordinated with an effort to rename the King Street block Larry Levan Way and featured songs considered Garage classics, some DJ'd, some of which were sung live by Jocelyn Brown, who appeared onstage to deliver such favorites as "I'm Caught Up (In a One Night Love Affair)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".
- From May 24 to September 22, 2019, The New York Historical Society's Stonewall 50 Exhibition displayed the original Paradise Garage metal sign from the disco's original building, which was a parking garage. Credits also on display read: "Paradise Garage (1976-1987) Dennis Wunderlin (b. 1943), designer. Exterior sign, ca. 1977. Metal, paint. Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University, New York, NY"
Multiple tribute sites are dedicated to the Paradise Garage, such as:
- "Patrons' Recollections". TheParadiseGarage.net.
- Pareles, Jon (June 18, 2000). "Paradise Garage, a Gay Club That Forever Changed Night Life". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- Baines, Josh (July 14, 2016). "François K Reflects on the Everlasting Legacy of Larry Levan and Paradise Garage". Thump Presents. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- Brown, Brian (March 25, 2011). "PARADISE GARAGE 84 KING STREET NYC THE GAY-RAGE". Youtube.
- "Remembrances from Garage Patrons - the Paradise Garage". Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- "Disco". the Data Lounge. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- Violette, Richard (2000). "Review of My Life and The Paradise Garage". Library Journal. ASIN 0967899400.CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link)
- Cheren, Mel; et al. (2000). My Life and The Paradise Garage: Keep On Dancin'. ISBN 0-9678994-0-0.
- "Larry Levan". Discogs.com. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
- Broughton, Frank & Brewster, Bill (2000). "Larry Levan's Paradise Garage". DJ History. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Martin, Douglas (December 21, 2007). "Mel Cheren, 74, an Entrepreneur of Disco, Dies". New York Times.
- "Tim Curry's "Paradise Garage" Reviewed - rock nyc". rocknycliveandrecorded.com.
- "Tim Curry Official Music Video - Paradise Garage - Superb Quality!". YouTube.
- "Larry Levan - Larry Levan's Paradise Garage". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
- Geernick, Jan. "A History Of Garage Music". jahsonic.com. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
- "The It Discography". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
- Beta, Andy (May 12, 2014). "DJ Larry Levan Remembered at Paradise Garage Reunion Block Party: Garage regulars and young fans mingle and dance in Lower Manhattan". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- "Parkett Channel" (in Italian). Retrieved 2019-12-07.
- "5 magazine". Retrieved 2020-06-27.
- "Electric Mode (UK)". Retrieved 2019-12-17.
- "Disco pioneer Mel Cheren dies at 74". Resident Advisor. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24.
- "Paradise Garage". Disco-Disco.com.
- "Patrons' Recollections". TheParadiseGarage.net.
- "West End Records". WestEndRecords.com.