Amoeblog

TECHNO IS BLACK!

Posted by Mike Battaglia, February 2, 2009 11:00am | Post a Comment
       Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage        Ron Hardy at the Music Box

Even five short years ago, many clubbers, ravers and dance music fans would be hard pressed to recognize the names Ron Hardy or Larry Levan (above, R-L), let alone acknowledge African American influence on the music they get freaky to on the weekends. Even in the black community, whole generations seem The legendary Paradise Garagecompletely oblivious to this part of their musical heritage. Thankfully, that's changing. With a renewed interest in disco, 80's uptempo R&B aka boogie, techno and early house music over the past few years, knowledge of dance music's history and the role blacks (and gays and latinos) played in its inception is growing. Nightclubs where the music was allowed to evolve, like Levan's Paradise Garage (right) in New York, Hardy's Music Box and Frankie Knuckles' Warehouse in Chicago (the latter being where the name House Music was coined) and Detroit's Music Institute remain legendary not because of the venues themselves or the people who owned them, but due to the DJ's who made those places immortal by performing an aural alchemy that transformed the American soundscape.

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The Scene

Posted by Mike Battaglia, April 7, 2007 05:43pm | Post a Comment
A direct descendent of American Bandstand, and the older, cooler cousin of Dance Party USA, Detroit's own televised dance show The Scene ran from the mid-70's until the late 80's, giving local urban teens a place to strut their stuff and be seen by nearly everyone in the metro area - literally. The show's popularity was so high at its peak that its ratings outshined all competitors, including the six o'clock news. The Scene was the focal point for local kids, as is evident by the enthusiasm of these young dudes:



More pertinent to this blog (and interesting to me) is that The Scene was popular during the birth and growth of Detroit's last enduring gift to the world: Techno.

The show aired on Detroit's only black-owned TV station, WGPR, and had its roots in the swinging disco Seventies, as you can see in this short piece from Detroit local news:


As disco "died", it was replaced by electro, boogie, and the eurodisco now commonly referred to as Italo-disco in the early Eighties. Its use of synthesizers would directly influence Detroit's black youth, not to mention the Belleville Techno triumvirate of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Case in point: Scene-sters dancing suavely to Kano's "I'm Ready".

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