King Street between Varick and Hudson is like any other unassuming block in West SoHo, New York. But for 10 years, between 1977 and 1987, a converted parking garage was home to Paradise Garage, inarguably the most important and influential nightclub to ever reside in Manhattan. Paradise Garage is the model for all dance parties and musical gatherings that came thereafter. The members-only club was fueled by a new construction of music that seamlessly blended fashion with a variety of sounds into one unified mix: soul, R&B, disco, reggae and other genres mixed into a new form of sound that would be referred to as “garage” — more commonly known today as house music.
For a better part of the 10-year run that was Paradise Garage, the music and turntables were manned by Larry Levan, who, like few at the time, understood the importance of mood, tone, and syncopation when carrying the dance floor. His work in pioneering dance music and the nightclub environment carries well beyond the walls of 84 King Street and continues to influence countless numbers of people who are moved by the sounds of house and dance music.
Yesterday, Red Bull Music Academy, with the help of three of Levan’s close DJ friends — David DePino, Francois Kevorkian, and Joey Llanos — kicked off a street party honoring Larry Levan and his music. Dubbed “Larry Levan Way,” the strip of King Street that housed the original Paradise Garage was closed off for a massive street party that brought together thousands of fans and patrons. The event also helped bring focus to a campaign looking to co-name the strip of King Street to “Larry Levan Way” in celebration of the house music icon. In proper New York fashion, the event was packed with music fans new and old who took a few hours out of their Sunday to dance in the sun.
Photography: Lauren Gesswein, Drew Gurian/Red Bull Content Pool