By Walter Rutledge
A Ramp to Paradise 2 is now less than a week away from its première on Thursday, November 8, 7:30pm at the Kumble Theater, Long Island University Campus, in downtown Brooklyn. This new version of the 2010 Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center’s presentation promises to be an exciting interactive multi-media dance and theatre experience. The production pays tribute to the legendary New York dance club of the 1970’s and 80’s twenty-five years after its closing.
A Ramp To Paradise 2 will feature a cast of over twenty-five performers from diverse dance and theatre backgrounds and disciples. These artists include professionally trained dancers, hustle and freestyle dancers, vogue artists, and transgender performers. The idea was to recreate an environment that would remind people of the Paradise Garage and the era in which it thrived.
The inclusion of specialty performers into the cast has also created a sense of community and mutual respect among the performers. During rehearsals the dancers enthusiastically cheer each other on, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a young ballet trained dancer or seasoned club veteran the camaraderie is evident and welcome. Some of the cast were members of the famed club and remember fondly growing up at the Paradise Garage.
One such cast member is David Padilla, who remembers the club from its inception. Padilla was able to parlay his talents as a hustle dancer into appearances on Dance Fever and was featured in the documentary Paris Is Burning. “The Crystal Room was the club. That small little room, and as the club grow it expanded. There was sawdust on the floor, because they did have a real dance floor yet; and we would hustle on it. It would get into everything your clothes and your hair”, explained Padilla.
The performance is a 70-minute one-act tour de force featuring a non-stop music mix of Garage classics spun by the two house DJ’s Fred Pierce and Carlos Sanchez. During the performance the audience will have the opportunity to join in and dance on stage with the cast. This is not just a concert this is a party! And what better way to honor the memory of a place renowned for giving great parties than to have a fun, ramble rousing, on your feet celebration.
The story centers around four friends who go out for a night of fun. Quickly the music propels the audience into the underground club culture filled with sex, drugs and (in this case) great disco music. Culture and history collide with the early 80’s emergence of AIDS, the pandemic that still plagues our world today.
When the Paradise Garage was conceived it was going to be a place where all people could come together, gay, straight, black, white, rich and poor to just dance. The music was to be the great healer of society. Although this altruistic ideal was never completely fulfilled for a brief time people did come together and dance to the music, and like the cast of A Ramp To Paradise formed a community. For one night at the Kumble Theater on November 8th that spirit will live again.
Tickets are $25 and include the performance and the after party by DJ’s Fred Pierce and Carlos Sanchez. Tickets are on sale and in demand. We encourage you to purchase tickets early. For tickets and more info call 718- 488- 1624, online at www.kumbletheater.org or visit the box office.
In Photo: 1) Paradise Garage logo 2) David Padilla in white shorts, Larry Levan in Green 3) David Padilla in center 4) Paradise Garage facade
Photo Credit: 1) Paradise Garage logo courtesy GMHC 2&3) Courtesy of David Padilla 4) unknown