The Paradise Garage was a discotheque notable in the history of modern LGBT and nightclub cultures and in dance and pop music. It was founded by Michael Brody, its sole proprietor and financed by music executive Mel Cherin, and was located at 84 King Street, in the Hudson Square neighborhood of New York City. It operated from 1976 to 1987 and was the base for DJ Larry Levan. The club's name derives from its origins as a parking garage. The Paradise Garage's business model was largely inspired by David Mancuso's parties at The Loft: no liquor was served, there were no sales of food or beverages, and the club was not open to the general public.
The sound system was developed, designed, and installed by Richard Long of Richard Long & Associates (RLA), and was said by those who attended to be the best in New York City at that time. The club has been credited for its influence on the development of the modern dance club as it is today; unlike other clubs of its time, the Paradise Garage was focused on dancing rather than social interaction, and it was the first to put the DJ at the center of attention. It was known for its enthusiasm, though unforgiving nature if a performer was struggling - including a young Madonna.
Among those to benefit from what became known as "The Garage Sound" or "Garage Music" was West End Records, run by Mel Cheren. Among West End's successes were "Sessomatto" by Sessa Matto, "Hot Shot" by Karen Young, "Heartbeat" by Taana Gardner (remixed by Levan), "Do it to the Music" by Raw Silk, and "Don't Make Me Wait" by the Peech Boys (produced by Levan). West End Records folded for a number of years, re-opening in the late 90s and releasing one of Levan's DJ sets recorded live at the Garage.
DJ Justin Berkmann, who spent time in New York and who was to visit and be heavily influenced by the sound of Paradise Garage that he become a DJ. Once he moved back to London, along with James Palumbo and Humphrey Waterhouse he looked to open a club to honour the sound of the New York, Chicago and Detroit house music scene. The club they opened in 1991 in the Elephant & Castle area of London is now the world famous club/brand Ministry of Sound.
In 1992, a UK music production and remix team called West End produced numerous UK #1 Club Chart hits influenced by the style of "The Garage Sound" and the associated West End Records label. By 1994, West End started a company called West End Radio Productions, whose founder, Eddie Gordon, created the Essential Mix show for BBC Radio 1 in the UK.
The building which housed the Paradise Garage is now a facility for Verizon Communications.
As of 2008, the Paradise Garage trademark is now owned by Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).
The unique and eclectic style of disco and dance music played at the Garage gave rise to the descriptive terms "New York house", "garage", "garage style", and "garage classic" (to describe a record that was made famous at or is associated with the Paradise Garage). When the term "garage music" is used in reference to the Paradise Garage, it does not exclusively mean house music, although certain house tracks may be considered to be garage classics.
House music as a genre got its start from the Garage's house DJ Larry Levan and his contemporaries, Frankie Knuckles and Nicky Siano, both also influential disc jockeys. These disc jockeys played all kinds of music so long as it was danceable; at the Paradise Garage, one was liable to hear The Clash and The Police as well as traditional "disco" artists like Gwen Guthrie and Sylvester. Levan is remembered for his ability to choose and play different records from different types of music and make it all fit together.