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Active Cultures: dance music sees the light

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At the age of 24, Ron Trent has been exposed to just about everything the dance club scene has to offer. Having a dad who ran a record-pooling company for DJs during the disco 70s, Trent began to spin at parties in his early teens, eventually becoming a DJ at the Reactor nightclub during house music's heyday in the 80s. He became successful enough to take his act to Europe, spinning at the Ministry of Sound in London and the Rex Club in Paris. Trent--a record producer and head of his own dance label, Prescription Records--is now looking to diversify the city's club scene by using art, performance, and--of course--dance music. But he insists his new venture, Urban Sound Gallery, is not a nightclub in the traditional sense. "We plan on producing events in the day," he says. "I see it more as a cultural resource center offering a variety of music and visual arts events." The health-conscious Trent also notes that the menu at his club will offer fruit juices and light vegetarian fare--but no alcohol.

Trent says this kind of thing is already happening in other cities. Hanging out at places like Vinyl in Manhattan, where DJ Francois Kevorkian holds Sunday-afternoon tea parties, Trent saw that New Yorkers pushed dance music culture far beyond the usual boundaries of nightlife. "Kevorkian starts it around noon and it ends at ten. His music programming ranges from live performances to African music. You never know what to expect. Some of the stuff he plays that's new, you feel as though you were there while they were recording it. The energy is amazing--people are really into it. Different types of people from all over--straight, gay, black, white, you name it. And you see some of the best dancers in the world. A lot of things happen in a scene like that, and that's the kind of vibe I want happening at Urban Sound Gallery."

Trent gets things under way this Saturday, when he hosts an all-night dance music bonanza called "African Blues" from 10 PM to 7 AM at Urban Sound Gallery, 3829 N. Broadway. Trent and local spinmaster Oscar McMillian will man the turntables in the main room, while DJ Goldie spins in an adjoining room. Admission is $5. "No need to call," says Trent. "Just show up." --Derrick Mathis

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Ron Trent photo by Nathan Mandell.

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