Health/Fitness » HIV/AIDS

GMHC’s Keep on Dancin’ Pays Tribute to Mel Cheren

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday Feb 14, 2014

On Feb. 15, dance music fans will all come together for Keep On Dancin', a fundraising event to pay tribute to Mel Cheren and to benefit three New York City AIDS service organizations: GMHC, AREA (American Run For The End Of Aids) and Lifebeat.

The event is organized by Christina VIsca in association with Joe Berinato, GMHC, AREA and Lifebeat. Renowned DJs David Morales and Quentin Harris will spin the hits from the halcyon days of the Paradise Garage, all in memory of Mel Cheren.

"We are honored to continue the legacy of the late Mel Cheren, and the music and DJs of the Paradise Garage," said GMHC's Assistant Director of Communications Krishna Stone. "Mel was a longtime supporter of GMHC. In fact, the Paradise Garage held the first-ever AIDS fundraiser in 1982, benefiting GMHC. The Keep on Dancin' parties are an uplifting way to raise funds for three AIDS service organizations. The incredible music brings diverse people together and reinvigorates them in the fight against HIV/AIDS."

With a career spanning almost five decades, Cheren's many accomplishments over the years have clearly proven him to be one of the most important and passionate figures in Dance Music history. He demonstrated the same commitment and dedication to his AIDS charity work from the early days of the crisis. His countless contributions to the fight against AIDS have become as legendary as his music industry landmarks and his iconic status within the evolution of New York City nightlife.

Cheren was the CEO and founder of West End Records, financial backer of the legendary Paradise Garage, founder and president of 24 Hours For Life, and was owner of the Colonial House where he donated space to for GMHC to use in its first year, 1982. In 2001, Cheren was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame with their Lifetime Achievement Award. The music pioneer and AIDS activist died Dec. 7, 2007 of AIDS-related causes.

After Cheren’s death, a committee was formed with staff members from GMHC, Lifebeat and the American Run for the End of AIDS, as well as party and music promoters, to create a new dance party/fundraiser. The annual event is named after his autobiography "Keep on Dancin’ -- My Life and the Paradise Garage," which was made into the documentary, "The Godfather of Disco."

In the spirit of his charitable philosophy, Cheren’s share of the proceeds from his book was donated to his non-for-profit organization, 24 Hours for Life. As of 2014, the Keep on Dancin’ party/fundraisers have been held for five years in NYC and Miami in conjunction with the Winter Music Conference.

Keep on Dancin’ will be held from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15 at XL Lounge, 516 West 42nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues). Tickets are $30 at the door/$25 in advance at Paradise Garage members can purchase tickets for $20 by presenting their membership card to the cashier the night of event only.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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