Big Night

Dance music's all grown up at the Dance Music Hall of Fame

While the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognizes dinosaurs of a bygone era, the Dance Music Hall of Fame honors living legends. François Kevorkian, Jellybean benitez, and Frankie Knuckles were among the artists, DJs, producers, and label managers inducted at DMHOF's second annual ceremony last week.

Kevorkian, whose history in dance music stretches back to the disco era, nabbed two honors—for Remixer and DJ— so it was only fair that he gave the longest speech, in which he thanked everyone from Kraftwerk to David Mancuso to Larry Levan. Since dance music will never get respect in America (as host dj cousin brucie noted in a speech), it may be the only time you'll hear people like Detroit techno artists Derrick May and Jeff Mills and Kevorkian's former Body & Soul colleague Danny Krivit getting props from someone on a podium. After Kevorkian was finished, Brucie cracked, "He mentioned everyone in the goddamn room!"

The awards show, held at the considerably tonier Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center, was all grown up this year. Fancy banquets and glitzy big-screen TVs, coupled with a more professional production than last year's seat-of-your-pants show at Spirit, led Danny Tenaglia to quip: "I feel like I'm at an Italian wedding!" He surmised why he wasn't getting inducted just yet. "I'm not old enough!" Then we high-fived.

Chic: Good times had by all
photo: Tricia Romano
Chic: Good times had by all

Before the show, Randy Jones—known as "the Cowboy" from the Village People and wearing a cowboy hat to make sure you knew that—hung out with his lawyer. "I trusted him with everything!" he said, to which his lawyer added, "And I took it all!"

A large man later stopped me and insisted that I take his picture. "I'm very important." I didn't recognize him. He was Patrick Adams, whose name didn't ring a bell, but whose songs did. He cited "Push Push (In the Bush)" to jog my memory. Say no more. I took his picture.

You know how during normal awards shows you fall asleep during the musical performances because they suck so badly? This was not a problem. The music was so good I wished they'd skip the speeches altogether. Ray Chew and the Crew, the Apollo Theatre's house band, was unbelievably good—turning out medleys of popular disco hits and backing performances by the Trammps, Kathy Sledge leading Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," and a tribute to Sylvester, featuring Martha Wash, Byron Stingily, and Alyson willia ms.

Disco was barely a twinkle when I was born, but Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" was one of the first songs I remember. Her performance had everyone on their feet, including producer inductee Nile Rodgers, who was also celebrating his birthday. ("How's everyone know that?" he wondered earlier. I told him they probably planned the whole event just for him.) Rodgers watched the Chic reunion with a Cheshire cat–sized grin, as original Chic singer Fonzi Thornton, along with Sylver Logan Sharp and Jessica Wagner, ran through a medley of the band's monster hits, "Le Freak," "Dance, Dance, Dance," and "Good Times." Rodgers, when accepting his induction, said, "People always ask me what the proudest moment of my life is, and that's when 'Good Times' was No. 2 for weeks after 'My Sharona.' And people said dance music was dead." Funny, they're still saying that. And disco really sucks too.

What doesn't suck: hurricane benefits. The "NY Loves NOLA" benefit at the Ace of Clubs, ACME Bar & Grill, and the Culture Project—in an all-day cabaret and theater performance marathon featuring a hilarious performance from Mr. Miyagi's Theater Company—raised $4,291 for the Red Cross.

 
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