The Gay Origins of Dance Music

With WorldPride 2014 coming up in Toronto later this month, this is a good time to look back on how gay culture contributed to the creation of dance music.  This is from Vice’s Thump:

On May 11, 2014, Red Bull Music Academy threw an outdoor event in Hudson Square in lower Manhattan to celebrate the life of Larry Levan, one of the originators of house music. This high profile party was part of a wider effort to have the section of King Street where it took place renamed Larry Levan Way, after the infamous DJ and the equally legendary club, the Paradise Garage, which once stood on the same block

Hundreds of revelers descended on King Street that Sunday afternoon, while thousands more tuned in online to watch the live stream of dancers shaking and strutting in the sun to the vintage sounds of underground disco played by Levan disciples François Kevorkian, David DePino and Joey Llanos. Whether experienced in person or virtually, one thing quickly became apparent about the Larry Levan Street Party: This was not your typical dance music crowd.
With an average age well over 30 (over 40, even), this was clearly a party for adults. Look again and the multi-racial make-up of the audience not only skewed black and Latino, it was almost exclusively made up of minorities—and not just racially. A substantial percentage of those assembled at the Larry Levan Street Party were gay. It was, seen through the hazy filter of history, as clear a view of dance music’s roots as one will ever see. A subculture that, as the first rays of gay rights began to shine out of the closet, gave birth to the dance music culture that now goes around the globe.
Continue reading.  And as you do, have a listen to this playlist created for the event by Songza.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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