Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Choice Story

Chapter Two (previous chapter is below)

I was deeply saddened several months later when I looked out into the yard of David’s home in the mountains and saw all those beautiful pieces of solid oak, early 20th century furniture just sitting out in the open air .I walked over to take a closer look and found that all pieces were totally ruined. .Rain and snow had t warped every valuable item. It looked like some pieces were already broken down for firewood.

This recollection takes me to thinking about how important it was for me to engage in a friendship with David. I had never met him before Gregory suggested we talk to him. I had been to the Prince Street Loft just a few times. He was very likeable and also a very good story teller.
He expressed a great reluctance to the Choice idea before he met me because he was guarding against the Loft being turned into something commercial.
Once he saw that I was an artist and not a businessman he slowly warmed up to the idea. He liked visiting me at my 2nd Street townhouse. He saw the many paintings I had done through the years, which were displayed on every wall of my white brick loft space. He also took note of my collection of books… most about art. But most of all he saw that records…thousands of pieces of vinyl were everywhere.

Then too was the sound system in my home of all Klipsch speakers. David was a devotee of Klipsch speakers. The Loft too was all Klipsch.
He began to trust the situation. We both loved great food and David believed that sharing dinners was an important part of the trust needed in business relationships. The day before we reached an agreement he brought over a great loaf of fresh bakery and some great cheeses. He demonstrated the breaking of bread, to go along with the shaking of hands. It rang a bell of sincerity, having a kind of Biblical connotation. He said it was an Italian thing.

Then came all the stories about how he kept the Loft going despite numerous attempts by The City government to close him down. He told of his court appearances. It was the father of his current attorney Mike Linn who kept the place open since the sixties in all of it’s various incarnations. Linn and David concocted various creative strategies to test the ordinances against social clubs and rent parties. Linn established many precedents which set the groundwork for future social clubs like The Paradise Garage.
I remember a story where he told me that Linn pointed out to the judge that David had shown up at court with two different colored socks that day… clearly demonstrating that David was not a business man club owner but rather a funky loft dweller who simply threw parties every weekend.

David explained to me how important it was to establish a membership with full data in the membership list. This too had been valuable evidence used to thwart attempts to shut him down. There were many social clubs existing in New York that were never bothered or challenged. They were usually storefronts where neighbors would gather to party. I remember visiting one in Harlem in 1960. By this time in the late 80’s there were several
after hour clubs that illegally served alcohol. How these clubs stayed open were described to me for the first time by Mancuso and Linn.

They also made me aware that I would have to be very careful about how I promoted the Club that I was about to launch. There could be no media advertising. There could be no signage outside or inside the door identifying it as The Choice, There should not even be any articles or interviews given to the newspapers. It was however OK to print and distribute invitations encouraging membership.

I was surprised however to find that David showed no interest in music at that time. Every deejay I had known previously had the most to share when it came to music. David was not the least bit interested in talking about it or listening to it. He would rather talk about audio equipment. He told stories about his equipment: his prized rosewood cartridges. his Levinson amplifiers. his Thoren turntables. His tweeter arrays, which were produced by Alex Rosner according to David’s ideas. I was aware of audiofiles through reading. But I had always placed them into the world of Classical music and Jazz. I saw them as wealthy people who splurged on lavish sound equipment for their homes. They were people who would proudly demonstrate their sound euipment in their homes with some dynamic piece of Beethoven or Ravel and then turn the system to a whisper while they wowed you with talk of their other posessions. David was above all an audiofile… but was putting his knowledge and passion to use with disco.

David also told the story about a major fight that he and Larry Levan had at The Loft with it ending in Larry assaulting his beloved Thoren turntables and destroying it’s tone arm in a fit of rage and spite, thereby bending it out of shape. It was known that David and Larry were good friends before the Garage took off. It was said that Larry was a protege of David, but once the Garage took off egos could not endure. It was because of this final episode that they were no longer speaking. Larry always spoke to me with a fondness for Mancuso. But Larry also had stories of David’s crazy moments. Personally my experience with the two of them was that Mancuso was a difficult person to deal with and Larry was basically a sweetheart with major disfunctions.

I never imagined at the time that these two individuals would be talked about and celebrated twenty years later as the pioneers of what would today be described as a huge deejay culture. They were no doubt very charismatic individuals with a power and a presence that was elusive. One could not quite put a finger on or define what their magic was or where it emanated from.
David seemed to care nothing about his appearance. Never dressed up and was quite disheveled looking…in my eye a slight resemblance to Charles Manson. Larry on the other hand was always styled no matter when you caught him. He always commanded accessories that were original. He would add little touches of humor to designer items by the most original talent.
He and Patricia Field were great friends, and Larry and his friends would always break the latest trends from her store at The Garage. Without this great styling, to my eye he would have looked rather average. He loved the just breaking Japanese designers , who just gave him whatever he wanted.

It is mind boggling to me that in all of what my life has been, I would have to say that these two individuals are probably on the top of my list as who has impacted my life the most. I say that because I have realized that most of us rarely get a chance to do something in life, which has an impact on many others. Something we sense is important. We don’t get too many chances to do something really great in life. The average person you would hear speak of the greatest thing they did, would say that it was in bring their wonderful children into this world. Life did not give me that experience but it did give me The Choice.

As I look back now at my 66 years I would have to say the greatest thing I got to do was The Choice. There are people that have expressed to me that it literally saved their lives. That hit record “Last Night A Deejay Saved My Life” is no joke. Larry’s performance gave me the inspiration to persue an art form which was more expressive and relevant that the figurative painting I was creating or the advertising world’s commercial art I was doing to make big bucks.

When I was dancing to Larry’s performances there was a level of multi- meaning in the tracks and the way they were put together. His form had the same property that really good poetry has. If you were to dwell on it you would find that it meant this, or maybe it meant that. You could interpret the message as being about a love affair, but on another level it could be a religious or spiritual experience. In another way it could be about politics or philosophy, success or failure. If one were a creative thinker, one could get lost for hours dancing to the deeper meanings of life. In those days lyrics were key to a compelling dance track. One could wake up to a new reality expressed very basically in street talk, by a screaming diva or a screaming saxophone. I find it incredible today that some at some parties today people are turned off by any trace of vocals. I can’t imagine why this generation wants it that way. Is it indicative of the “I don’t want to hear it” mentality .Our generation wanted to see and hear “Love Is The Message:… it was our anthem

While Larry’s example gave me direction for my spinning style. David gave me the information of his experience in running an underground party venue as well as a venue that did not dictate a commercial pop mandate. I had been trying for 7 years to do my thing at popular clubs, only finding that most of the time I had to compromise what I really wanted to be doing with the music I truly wanted to play. I am still baffled to this day how these two characters turned my many capabilities toward this direction and this mission. Was it a cop out or was it what I came here to do.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Choice Collection 002





The Choice Collection 002

Download Link: http://www.sendspace.com/file/dlcfvx

Tracklist:

1.WhatIsLove Deee-Lite.MikeTweekinRogers.BobPower.TomSteele.RickEssig (Elektra/Warner)

2.GenerationsOfLove
JesusLovesYou.SimonRogers.BruceForrest.PaulOakenfold (VirginRecords)

3.PeopleHoldOn Coldcut.LisaStansfeld.Blaze (BigLife)

4.IfYouShouldNeedAFriend Blaze.ChrisHerbert.JoshMilan.KevinHedge
(Quark)

5.Positivity Positivity.MartinFreeland.AndyJones,PaulGotel (ChrysalisRecords)

6.Alone DonCarlos (Calyso/IrmaRecords)

7.LuvDancing UndergroundSolution (StrictlyRhythm)

8.INeedARhythm 28thStreetCrew.Jomanda.LarryYasgar.BruceCarbon.AnthonySanfillipo.LuieRivera (Vendetta.A&MREcords)

9.InTheMix Mixmaster.McAction.RockyJones.MartinLuna.TyreeCooper. (DJInternationalRecords)

10.PrideInTheNameOfLove Civilles&Cole.deborahCooper.PaulPesco.

11.Clonk SweetExorcist.KirkBarratt (WarpRecords)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Choice Collection 001




The Choice Clollection 001

Download Link: http://www.sendspace.com/file/cfwgx0

Tracklist:

1.RichInParadise - F.P.I.Project.Mfratty.C.Presti,R.Intrallazzi.L.Berry ( ZYXRecords)
2.Heaven - KCC.Emile.KerriKoazChandler.FreddySannon (ShelterRecords)
3.S.A.D - FourOnTheFloor (NightClubRecords
4.Deeper - SusanClark.JamesBratton.Stimulation (111EastREcords)
5.Scatt - Vocalize.Robyx (DanceWorldAttack
6.2Hot2Stop - L.U.S.T.RichBoyz.WarrenRosenstein (ReneeRecords)
7.Runnin - Jovonn.RenatoPearson.DavidDarlington (WarnerBros/Eternal)
8.Ambience - TotalCapacity.AndrewRichardson.G.Pizarro.GavinMorison (StricktlyRhythmREcords
9.IPromise - MarkRogers.CliffWhyte (WarriorsDance)
10.BeenALongTime - TheFog.DorothyMann.Mr.Marvin.Unity3. (DowntownRecords)
11.Mama’sBoy - LizTorres.JessieJones.StateStreetBoys.TomHanson (StateStreetRecords)
12.AllAlone -DeepVoyage.CliffSt.Cyr&CevinFisher (DirectHitEntertainment)
13.FrenchKiss - LilLouis. (DiamondRecords)

Intro

,
The 20th Annivesary of The Choice has brought me an opportunity to share some of the music and experiences
of a unique club that was an important pioneer in the music phenomenon that came to be known as "House Music"
Thanks to technological assistance and inspiration from Eduardo Rossell, it is now possible to give you the archives I have libraried in the past 20 years. We are very pleased to see that there is a new generation of music producers,
dancers and musicians who are finding this stuff really interesting.
We think that you will find Early House has a sympatico with the minimal tech house of today as well as the roots of deep and soulful house..
There are currently more than 100 compilations in my library and I am very pleased to share them with you.
How we see things is a matter of Choice... so let's keep our minds and ears open for the
old as well as the new.

THE CHOICE STORY- RICHARD VASQUEZ

In the Dance Music community I am noted ,by those who remember,
for having created a legendary club which carried on the tradition of soulful electronic dance msuic after the Paradise Garage closed. The last 3 days continous part y on King Street ended on a Monday morning in September 1987.
In ocober 87 the Choice started as a fabulous party at my seven story townhouse on Second Street between The Bowery and Second Avenue… across the street from CBGB on what was then a Skidrow.
Four floors of the brownstone were open to the party which came once a month commencing immediately at the close of The Garage. Gregory Meyers who was one of Larry’s best friends from high school and his occasional lightman was the featured deejay as well as myself. Gregory suggested that we ask Joey Llanos who was the head of Garage security to do our security at the townhouse. Gregory set up the top three floors with lighting and a Klipsch sound system. Gregory was very knowledgeable in sound systems having worked with Richard Long who did the sound for the Garage.

Word of mouth alone brought about 900 people to my townhouse the first weekend. The theme of the party was Kindred Spirits. It was absolutely amazing how the friendly East Village police would check us out as the overflow crowd blocked the street… but they never offered any oppostition. Instead they asked if they could come back after shedding their uniforms to party with us. It was a free party but we had a modest cash bar which was run by Peter Syratt a British chap who was a celebrity Danceteria bartender and lived in the townhouse with us on the second floor.

The second party was a fundraiser for the Jesse Jackson campaign for the presidency. The third party was a welcome to Mikhail Gorbachev to our great city. The fourth party was a “just say yes” event. spoofing Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” campaign against drugs.

By this time the 140 year old brick structure was straining at the seams
and then the main dance floor quaked at 4am as one of a main supporting beam cracked. Bricks and debris fell on the people on the floor below,
but miraculously no one was hurt. On the roof of the townhouse was a four by four beam which was being used to build a sundeck. Michael Kisselbach cut it down to size and propped up the sagging floor and we continued to party until four in the afternoon next day. You can read Michael Aligs account of this event in “The Last Party’ –Anthony Hayden Guest.

Now we knew that we had to find a new space, but the city was very opposed to opening up new spaces for clubs… and those existing clubs were not interested in hosting parties where people did not spend on alcohol.
The Garage had been an alcohol free party and that made for a very different vibe than the other commercial clubs… a vibe that attracted serious dancers.
We wanted to keep that unique vibe going… but where to go?

Three bocks east of Richard Townhouse was David Mancuso’s The Loft
And Gregory being good friends with David suggested that he talk with us about moving the party there. David was thinking about taking a Sabbatical year from his ongoing party, which had been going since the late sixties.
The new space he had moved to never worked, it was more than he could handle. It had gapping holes in the roof so that every time it rained the party had to be cancelled. It had it’s electric supply cut off by Con Ed because of tampering with meters. They were running a power cord from the chop shop down the block. Most of the legendary sound system had been sold off to pay the bills. The plywood dance floor was wrecked from the roof leaks. It was over run by rats from the gargage collection business on that block.

Mancuso was very reluctant to give the space over to The Choice
But his attorney Mike Lynn convinced him that this was something he had to do for his best interestsso a contract was signed to lease the space on Saturdays for one year. The first complication was that David was still living there so he would have to vacate for the weekend. Lynn worked that out. Then came the realization that all of the antique furniture that decorated The Loft had to be removed,so David conceded to moving it up to his house upstate. (more to come)