Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles had been friends since their teens – they met through Harlem’s ball culture (later celebrated in Paris Is Burning), were members at The Loft, decorators at The Gallery and DJs at various gay venues. Larry was the more successful DJ to begin with and became resident at huge new club in 1977. Calling it Garage (which is what is was) was a bit too prosaic so they called it Paradise Garage.
The sound system was loud and bass heavy. Among the soul, R&B and disco, there was still room for a more eclectic choice as long as it had bass and a groove.
Paradise Garage was intended to attract gay white clubbers but, at least initially, the audience was largely black, especially on a Friday night. Sylvester would have appealed to both crowds, and still does.
While Larry Levan was getting established at Paradise Garage (and eventually birthing a genre known simply as Garage), his friend Frankie Knuckles had moved to Chicago and was creating a scene at a club called Warehouse. Tending to stay away from more mainstream disco, Frankie drew from older disco (Philly and Salsoul), deeper R&B, electro and, eventually, hip hop sounds to create a distinct style – Warehouse music or simply ‘house music.
According to Love Saves The Day, a local record shop started displaying the tracks Frankie Knuckles was playing at seminal Chicago club Warehouse in the section “House Music” and that’s where the term originated. A couple of years later, Knuckles would be a key figure in the development of the Chicago House sound.
We end where we started, with David Mancuso and his eclectic music selection at The Loft. Having started in 1970, The Loft was still partying in 1979. In fact it was still running 46 years on in 2016 when Mancuso died. Here’s one of the “manifesto” track titles he loved so much.