The Paradise Garage crashed onto New York's nightlife scene like a tidal wave. When it opened in 1977, the dance club, housed in a former parking garage on 84 Varick Street, offered a counterpoint to its glitzier uptown cousin, Studio 54, where the rich and fabulous went to be seen. The Garage, which did not sell alcohol and wasn't open to the general public, was strictly about the music. For a decade, until the club's closing in 1987, it was a utopia for New York's increasingly liberated black and Latino L.G.B.T. communities, who went there to dance until sunrise (and often beyond) to the cutting-edge sounds of disco, soul, funk, R&B, new wave and an emerging genre that would eventually be known as house music.
The man credited with pioneering that sound and shepherding the Garage's dedication to music was Larry Levan, whose devotion to making people dance gave birth to the figure of the modern D.J. Before the arrival of Levan, who died in 1992, a D.J. was just a functional cog in the club's apparatus, not the main attraction. Levan's Saturday sets - which came to be known as "Saturday Mass" - were all-night marathons that ran the gamut of his eclectic tastes. If his audience wasn't feeling a particular song, Levan, who was a master at working the crowd, would play it again and again until they eventually did. This Sunday, as part of an initiative to rename King Street, on Manhattan's West Side, Larry Levan Way, the Red Bull Music Academy is throwing the Larry Levan Street Party, where Levan's backup D.J.s Joey Llanos, Dave Depino and Francois K - all dance music legends in their own right - will be spinning and mixing the records that made Levan an icon. Here, some of those who worked with Levan, and several who partied with him, recall their most memorable moments from the Garage.