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Tue, May 13, 2014

Arts, Community, Culture, Entertainment, Lifestyle

Larry Levan Way: The Fight To Get the Pioneering New York House DJ a Street Name

BY lyanne

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New Yorkers and Newarkers alike thump to the Rhythm of a House party gathering Sunday, on King Street between Varick and Hudson into Larry Levan Way, the the renowned DJ of the Paradise Garage, Larry Levan.  For many Newarker’s and the love for “House music” is engrained and well documented, Studio 54, Paradise Garage, and Brick city’s own Internationally known Zanzibar Club.    Newark and Brooklyn share a friendly feud of the House music art form that started in Chicago in the 70′s, and never died in Newark.

The two self-described “house heads” got the idea after DJ Joey Llanos suggested on Facebook that a street be named after Lawrence Philpot (Levan’s birth name) following last year’s 26th Annual Reunion Party, a yearly celebration of the Paradise’s closing and of Levan’s birthday on July 20. “A light went off in my head,” he tells Billboard. “That’s supposed to be there, to mark a designation for Larry.”  As part of the local initiative to rename King Street Larry Levan Way.  Once Red Bull caught wind of the initiative, Cruz says, the company lauded the cause and decided to celebrate Levan’s legacy by hosting a street party at 84 King Street. “As part of the local initiative to rename King Street as Larry Levan Way,” Red Bull’s official statement reads, “the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York is proud to bring recognition to the legacy of Levan by helping to take over King Street for a day of music, dancing and celebration. We support the community’s petition drive and hope the event raises awareness of the local efforts to rename the street.” Larry Levan elevated DJing to an art-form,  as the legendary DJ of the Paradise Garage, Larry Levan was revered for his musical journeys, gaining a loyal following in the gay and straight communities alike. As one of the first DJs to perform worldwide and one of the first DJs to develop and own his own record label, Larry Levan was a true pioneer in the dance music industry. The overwhelming message of love and positivity that Levan shared through his music broke down barriers in the dance music scene and beyond. Levan’s remixes and productions for revered artists such as Aretha Franklin, Grace Jones, Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, and Jocelyn Brown continue to be treasured today by DJs all over the world. It is because of this legacy that a petition has started, requesting that the section of King Street between Varick and Hudson Streets be renamed Larry Levan Way.

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The Music Block party was festive, energetic, and lively, where patron reminiscent about the iconic club and it music.  The event began at 11:30 and was to pump the classic house sounds until 6pm.  However, the crowd grew so large that the police and event promoters, stopped letting people into the event at 4:30 pm and ultimately shutted the street party down by 5:00pm.  One patron stated, “They didn’t know how much people remember and love the garage”.

Pioneering New York house DJ Larry Levan, best-known for his residency at legendary nightclub the Paradise Garage. The event coincides with a petition to co-name the section of King Street between Varick and Hudson, where the Paradise attracted lines around the block during it operation from 1978 to 1987, after Levan.   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 parties at The Loft: no liquor was served, there were no sales of food or beverages, and the club was not open to the general public.  The unique and eclectic style 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, although certain house tracks[which?] may be considered to be garage classics.

“Co-name King Street to Larry Levan Way” was launched last year by Frankie Cruz, a former Paradise patron and DJ at WXLV, Lehigh Carbon Community College’s iHeartRadio station. After collecting close to 4,000 electronic signatures since posting the initiative online last September, and the petitions filled out at Sunday’s event, Cruz’s plan is to approach Community Board 2 (covering Greenwich Village, NoHo, SoHo, Chinatown, and Little Italy) with friends and CB2 resident Dawn Echeves, to submit the application for renaming the street.  It brought memories to this Newarker’s as a straight up party to get you sweat on, it was a memorable house music event.  Stay tuned to a house documentary to be aired this summer at the Lincoln Park Cultural Festival, here in Newark.

 

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