By Walter Rutledge
German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht stated, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” The Paradise Garage was more than just a dance club it was a community lead by a music muse. A Ramp To Paradise 2 which will debut on November 8, 7:30pm at the Kumble Theater on Long Island University’s downtown Brooklyn Campus promises to reshape the memory the legendary dance club with an interactive multi media dance theatre jamboree.
The production will feature a cast of over twenty-five performers from a diverse cross section of the entertainment world. The processes of bring together vogue and performance artists, hustle and freestyle dancers, transgender performers, and traditional trained dancers seemed daunting but they have worked together as a community.
The sense of community was the cornerstone of the Paradise Garage. The groundbreaking dance club was founded on the premise the art music could change social attitudes and bias. The late seventies was an era of social revolt, women, African Americans, and the fledgling/emerging GLBT community were all vying for a voice.
The 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village was the beginning of the revolt against gay oppression. Homophobic violence and harassment were systemic in the New York Police Department. The popular phase from the movie Network “I’m tired and I just can’t take it anymore” sums up the situation.
Ironically the quest for equality did not promote a symbiosis among the GLBT community. Paradise Garage founder Michael Brody recognized that whites and minorities gays were polarized. Brody wanted to create a place where all people could come together, and music would be the unifying factor.
In 1977 the Paradise Garage opened and for a brief moment in history art hammered out a new direction for society. Music became the unifying factor. For ten years it created a legacy that for many still dances on.
A Ramp To Paradise captures that spirit. We invite you to join us on Thursday November 8 to relive the magic. Tickets are $25 and include the performance and the after party by DJ’s Fred Pierce and Carlos Sanchez. For tickets and more info call 718- 488- 1624, online at www.kumbletheater.org or visit the box office.
In Photo: 1) A Ramp To Paradise Poster 2) Danielle Thomas and Nijawwon Matthews 3) Ebonee Excel as Grace Jones 4) Stonewall Protester 5) Neon Paradise Garage logo
Photo Credit 1) Courtesy Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center 2) Walter Rutledge 3) Jean Louis 4) unknown 5) Courtesy GMHC