There was once a discotheque in Queens that had been a parking garage. Founded by Michael Brody, the infamous Paradise Garage attracted popular celebrities like Grace Jones and Madonna, but it was primarily a space for the young, black, and queer. Resident DJ Larry Levan, renowned for his innovative mixes of popular soul and disco tracks, established the "garage house" genre there, setting the tone for future club DJs.
For about ten years, from 1977 to 1987, Paradise Garage raised important political and cultural issues. According to the founder, Michael Brody, it was shut down because of local complaints that it was a predominantly black club in the neighborhood—and these questions, involving racism, accessibility, and cultural appropriation, still remain relevant today.
These photographs will be on view as part of a six month active research display at Nottingham Contemporary’s Zebrario Space in collaboration with Collabor8 in Nottingham, UK.
Meryl Meisler is an artist based in New York City. She is author of the internationally acclaimed photo books A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick and Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City (Bizarre Publishing). Meisler is currently working on a sequel to Disco Era Bushwick.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.