Monday, May 29, 2006

The Next Chapter Begins

Once Au Courant publisher Mike LaBance passed away in 1992, I decided I would return to center city Philadelphia - since I simply couldn't handle NE Philly any longer. I moved into my current residence back in 1993 and, as explained in this post, the year was a whirlwind of emotion: from the excitement and trepidation of moving back into center city, to sadness and abandonment with the sudden passing of my father.

Upon my father's death, I shut down emotionally and poured myself into my work. I was a poster child for denial. The downside was that I learned how to emotionally detatch from life ... and still function. The upside was that I was even more creative and determined in whatever I took on.

In 1994, I helped my friend Ty, who was the owner/chef of The Knave of Hearts on South Street, complete his renovations of the 2nd floor of his 3 properties - which were all opened and connected room to room. Once done, The Love Lounge opened up and once again I was connected with Bob "Nature Boy" Denny ... one of the more sincere spirits in Philly.

Bob and I knew each other through most of the late 80s/early 90s ... mostly when he was the booking agent for Revival, the Chestnut Cabaret and other locations and I was working at WXPN. Bob's distinctive poster designs, along with his abilty to bring local music like Scram and international world music artists to rock clubs , really shaped the live music scene in Philadelphia in the late 80s/early 90s.

He had an energy and passion that was truly unmatched when it came to bringing live music to the city. These are just a couple of his Nature Boy Productions flyers of the time - click on them to see a larger version!

So, Bob was now overseeing The Love Lounge, and I - as a regular customer of the Knave and a neighbor - offered to help produce events. The first score was a party that was happening uptown at a club that was once The Hot Club. My world had come full circle. The party was a deep house party called Tea Party [if i remember correctly] and it featured the coolest cats in the city. At this point in time, house music and acid house was the underground ... since the pots-n-pan sounds of producers like Stock Aitken and Waterman were all over the radio.

So, I convinced them to move their party to The Love Lounge and they did with much success. When you walked up the flight of stairs to The Love Lounge, you first came upon a small bar - then you stepped into the living room pit, which had a sectional couch lining the walls and a working fireplace alongside one wall - along with a tv hanging from the ceiling in the corner. You stepped up 3 stairs into the middle room, which had incredible murals painted on the walls and wonderful round tables - each handpainted with celestial images. On the other end of the room was 3 stairs down into the dance space, which was a simple empty room that had large speakers and a tv in one corner, for videos etc... The DJ booth looked over the dance room via a cut-out in the wall. Windows in all three rooms looked over South Street and down into its across-the-street neighbor, Chef's Market.

With the Tea Party going strong on Wednesdays - and the weekends with their own vibes, thanks to Nature Boy - the weak link was Sundays. So I created a party that featured the latest sounds - spun by DJ Brian Norwood ... who at the time was working for 611 Records. This was one of his first DJ gigs and Brian went on to become a circuit DJ in the late 1990s and spun the first-ever dance on Washington D.C.'s historic Pennsylvania Avenue during the Millennium celebrations of 2000.

I called the party GLOW, to play off the fact that we had a real fireplace and warm vibes - since the party made its debut during the early winter of 1994 and ran weekly until spring of 1995. The mix was house, trance and dance classics and the crowd was a mix of 'scene' folk, combined with the more artistic element that Philly had to offer at the time. I'm not sure whatever happened to Brian - acccording to Google - he seems to have vanished into thin air after 2000. I hope he's okay.

One of the flea market finds that I scored was an authentic LOVE swag lamp from the 1970s, which hung over a back corner table in the dance room ... that was where I spent most of my time and when the club finally closed up, Ty asked if i wanted the lamp - and I took it and it sits proudly in my bedroom to this day!

With every project I took on, a seed was planted that begat my next project. That's how it always is for me. During GLOW, I placed a full page ad in a new upstart party magazine that local scenester Robert Rowland was publishing. The magazine published a few issues and then fizzled out .. but watching it in action stimulated the publishing bug that had been long-buried for the past decade!

More on that in my next post. :)


Anonymous City Girl said...

First BB, now the Love Lounge.
Ah... the memories!

brandy101 said...

SCRAM! Ahhh! I loved them - they played alot of all ages shows, thus I actually was able to see them live on a number of occassions.

And I gotta say: that LOVE lamp ios FIERCE!!! Lucky you!!!