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Keep On Dancin' - My Life and The Paradise Garage
Review by: Dj Dennis

It's as simple as this. One person opens up their past by letting those in the present find out how it all evolved, so the future will realize what it has, and learn not to take it for granted. Mel Cheren was, and still is a pivotal icon in the world of Dance Music, DJ culture, and the fight against AIDS. His book shares his early "closeted' years where he was finding out who he really was, and how he liked to express himself. The book entails many ways that Mel, working in the music industry, used his experiences in the dance clubs by coming up with catalyst ideas (the b-side, using 12" records instead of 45s, etc) that would change how we promote, buy, listen, and report about dance music. The book further describes the building of foundational friendships on a young Fire Island where Mel would meet a boy named Michael Brody, who would change his emotional life forever. Years of friendship lead into the politics behind building a nightclub and DJ's career, specifically The Paradise Garage and Larry Levan. The details about how his label, West End Records, drugs, dancing, and relationships end up making the decisions for him is almost fictitious when read, but the real life feelings come out through each and every word.

"My Life' also delves into the AIDS epidemic that exploded in the 80's, not just in the public eye, but within Mel's family of friends. Mel's infamous statement 'Nothing happens by accident!' comes into play. Mel creates 24 Hours For Life, a non-profit organization to try and help in the fight against AIDS, the disease that was taking all of his friends away from him. Chapters about art shows with Keith Haring, fundraisers with many clubs across the city of NYC, concerts and shows with Dione Warwick; all to help against a monster that no one knew how to fight. Continually challenging himself, Mel regains sole-ownership of his old closed label, West End, reopens the office doors, and is again in the business of spreading music to the world. This is definitely a story that should not be missed. The history alone about the clubs is worth the reading, but when you find out how interwoven each and every one of their lives are, it can really touch your heart.


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