Paradise Garage


Paradise Garage
"The Garage"
Paradise Garage logo.jpg
Paradise garage.jpg
Address84 King Street
New York, New York
United States
Coordinates40°43′41″N 74°00′23″W / 40.72794°N 74.00645°W / 40.72794; -74.00645Coordinates: 40°43′41″N 74°00′23″W / 40.72794°N 74.00645°W / 40.72794; -74.00645
OperatorMichael Brody
Field size10,000 square feet (930 m2)
Built1924 (as auto garage)
OpenedJanuary 28, 1978 (1978-01-28)
ClosedOctober 1, 1987 (1987-10-01)
ArchitectVictor Mayper

Paradise Garage, also known as "the Garage"[1][2] or the "Gay-rage",[3][4][5] was a New York City discotheque notable in the history of dance and pop music, as well as LGBT and nightclub cultures.[6][7][1] The 10,000 square feet (930 m2) club was founded by sole proprietor Michael Brody, and occupied a building formerly located at 84 King Street[8] in the SoHo neighborhood. It operated from 1977 to 1987 and featured notable resident DJ Larry Levan.[9]

The Garage is credited with influencing the development of modern nightclubs, and is cited as a direct inspiration for London's Ministry of Sound.[10][11] Unlike other venues of its time, Paradise Garage promoted dancing rather than verbal interaction, and it was the first to place the DJ at the center of attention.[12] It was known for its enthusiastic-yet-unforgiving nature toward performers.[citation needed] It hosted many notable musicians including Diana Ross[13] and a young Madonna.[12] In 1979, Tim Curry released the album Fearless, containing the single "Paradise Garage", whose lyrics narrate visiting the discotheque.[14][15]


Physical space

Paradise Garage derived its name from the building's origin as an early automobile parking structure. Its initial certificate of occupancy, dated March 26, 1925, identifies the architect of the two-story commercial building at 80-86 King Street as Victor Mayper.[16]

Michael Brody's imprint on the space began in 1977 with the club opening as 84 King Street Garage. After a year-long renovation, it officially became Paradise Garage on January 28, 1978.[17] Among the improvements were a sprung dancefloor and custom sound system, developed by Richard Long of Richard Long & Associates (RLA).[18] The club's main room layout and dancefloor were reportedly purpose-designed around the sound system, which is said to have been the best in New York City at that time and described by François Kevorkian as a "temple of music."[8][12]

The venue initially accommodated 750 patrons,[19] but a 1984 expansion raised its legal capacity to 1,400 people and added a rooftop lounge[20] styled after the coastal scrubland and beachside villas of nearby Fire Island Pines, where Brody owned a summer home.[8]

After 11 years of operation, The Garage's lease ended on October 1st, 1987. The building later[when?] reverted to use as truck depot by Verizon Communications.[21] In April 2018, it was demolished[17] and replaced by high-rise luxury condominiums.


The Garage was largely modeled on David Mancuso's private invitation-only DJ parties at The Loft.[12] Admission to the club was only available to members and their guests, with an interview process used to select members.[8] In order to avoid New York City restrictions on bar and restaurant hours-of-operation, snacks and beverages were freely available to patrons and no liquor was served. These measures allowed the club to stay open afterhours, often until 10:00 AM or even later the following day.

In contrast to its well-known contemporary Studio 54, The Garage fostered a distinctly no-frills, egalitarian atmosphere, as reminisced by one of its former dancers:

You went there to dance, and we didn't dance like the regular people who were dancing in discos. I used to get dressed up to go to a disco, I'd do the Hustle for a couple hours till 4 o'clock in the morning, then I'd say, "Oh shit, lemme go to the Garage." I had my bag with me and go to the Garage and change into my sweatpants and my sneakers.

— Willie Dancer, in Paradise Garage: The oral history of NYC’s greatest club [8]

The club hosted a number of charity events, benefitting organizations like Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC)[17] and U.S. Fund for UNICEF.[22] As of 2008, the Paradise Garage trademark is owned by GMHC.[citation needed]


Paradise Garage was an epicenter for early pioneers of dance music under the curation of resident DJ Larry Levan. The unique and eclectic styles of disco and dance music featured at the Garage gave rise to descriptive encompassing terms like New York house, "garage", "garage style", and "garage classic" (to describe a record that was made famous at, or associated with, the club).

Although the term "garage music" (not to be confused with UK garage) does not exclusively mean house music, the latter saw extensive development and promotion among Levan and his contemporaries, Frankie Knuckles and Nicky Siano. Nonetheless, these DJs played all kinds of music at 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.

Among those who benefitted from what became known as "The Garage Sound" or "Garage Music" was Mel Cheren, a partial-backer of the club and owner of 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.[23]


Notable performers who have played at Paradise Garage include:

In popular culture

Tribute events

  • 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".[26]
  • 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".

Tribute sites

Multiple tribute sites are dedicated to the Paradise Garage, such as[27]

Tribute movies

In 2019, the DJ Corrado Rizza directed and produced a documentary movie called Larry's Garage.[28][29][30][31]

See also


  1. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (June 18, 2000). "Paradise Garage, a Gay Club That Forever Changed Night Life". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  2. ^ Baines, Josh (July 14, 2016). "François K Reflects on the Everlasting Legacy of Larry Levan and Paradise Garage". Thump Presents. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  3. ^ Brown, Brian (March 25, 2011). "PARADISE GARAGE 84 KING STREET NYC THE GAY-RAGE". YouTube.
  4. ^ "Remembrances from Garage Patrons - the Paradise Garage". Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  5. ^ "Disco". the Data Lounge. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  6. ^ Violette, Richard (2000). "Review of My Life and The Paradise Garage". Library Journal. ISBN 0967899400.
  7. ^ Cheren, Mel; et al. (2000). My Life and The Paradise Garage: Keep On Dancin'. ISBN 0-9678994-0-0.
  8. ^ a b c d e Raymer, Miles (August 21, 2018). "Paradise Garage: The oral history of NYC's greatest club". Timeout New York.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Larry Levan". Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  10. ^ "DJ Harvey on Balearic, Acid house and the birth of Dance". YouTube. Red Bull Music Academy. 2005. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  11. ^ "How we made: Ministry of Sound". the Guardian. November 13, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Broughton, Frank & Brewster, Bill (2000). "Larry Levan's Paradise Garage". DJ History. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  13. ^ a b c d Martin, Douglas (December 21, 2007). "Mel Cheren, 74, an Entrepreneur of Disco, Dies". New York Times.
  14. ^ "Tim Curry's "Paradise Garage" Reviewed - rock nyc".
  15. ^ "Tim Curry Official Music Video - Paradise Garage - Superb Quality!". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  16. ^ Certificate of Occupancy 9391. New York City Bureau of Buildings. 1925.
  17. ^ a b c "DEMOLISHED: Paradise Garage". NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Retrieved October 12, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Paradise Garage @". Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  19. ^ Certificate of Occupancy 76327. New York City Department of Buildings. January 7, 1976.
  20. ^ Certificate of Occupancy 85964. New York City Department of Buildings. July 13, 1984.
  21. ^ "Paradise Garage Reunion At LPR". NBC Universal Media, Channel 4 New York, January 28, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  22. ^ Tomasson, Robert (January 27, 1985). "Future Events". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  23. ^ "Larry Levan - Larry Levan's Paradise Garage". Discogs. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  24. ^ Geernick, Jan. "A History Of Garage Music". Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  25. ^ "The It Discography". Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ "Patrons' Recollections".
  28. ^ "Parkett Channel" (in Italian). Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  29. ^ "5 magazine". June 24, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  30. ^ "Electric Mode (UK)". November 29, 2019. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  31. ^ "New documentary tells story of Larry Levan and Paradise Garage". October 22, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.

External links

  • "Disco pioneer Mel Cheren dies at 74". Resident Advisor. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  • "Paradise Garage".
  • "Patrons' Recollections".
  • "West End Records".