Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Allen St Boys

Mural done by LEE Quinones on Allent St. 1982
                
                   In the summer of 1984, me & a friend took a ride from our neighborhood in Queens to the shopping mecca known as Delancey St on the lower east side of Manhattan. We were both starting high school that fall & wanted to pick  up the flyest back to school gear. Delancey or D Street as it was called, was a B-Boy's dream retail emporium. One could pick up sheepskin coats in just about every color, custom made belt buckle name tags, creased lee jeans, le tigre shirts, leather bomber jackets, black or white gloves used for popping/breakdancing & of course; every shade of shell top Adidas sneakers under the sun with the fat laces already intertwined in checker board patterns if so desired. We could have probably found the same stuff around our way, if we looked hard enough, but it was somehow more legitimate to get your essential B-boy accessories from D Street.
                   We had both saved up our allowance & birthday gifts money for this day, wishing we could take 2 of everything we saw, but the reality being that we could only afford a couple of items each at best. He picked up a fresh burgundy sheepskin coat & a pair of gold rimmed Gazelle sunglasses. I settled for a matching grey BVD mesh shirt & shorts combo plus a sweatshirt with my crew's name stenciled on it.
                    As we were about to depart the last store we visited, someone that just walked in said: "Yo, you better watch your backs, the Allen St boys are out to tax today". We nonchalantly ignored his warning, in that invincible 14 year old way & proceeded to head back to the subway. Sure enough, as we made it halfway up the block, we saw a group of tough looking hard rocks running, not walking, straight toward us from Orchard St. They certainly didn't look like they were up for some friendly banter. Not in the mood to get housed today, we were like "Oh dip!" & jetted like Jesse Owens running a mile in under a minute, wolf pack at our heels. No small feat, as back in those days, in order to give the Adidas shell toe sneaker w/the fat laces a cooler, bulkier look; we would double up a rolled up sock on the front part of the inside of the sneaker. This would look cool when doing a B-boy stance at the local skating rink, but not too practical when running from a pack of marauding thugs.
                  It must have made quite a scene, us half running & half hopping down the block but we miraculously made it to the subway station, jumped the turnstile & got on the F train just as the doors were about to close. The Allen St boys were left to hurl obscenities at us as we safely pulled away from the station.
                 We told our getting chased story with some measure of pride the next day. All part & parcel of growing up in NYC during the early 80's: getting chased by rival crews, stick up kids or the police. An urban rite of passage. I sincerely hope the kids today do not go through the same trials & tribulations while shopping for their preferred outfits at places like Hot Topic or Abercrombie & Fitch!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Heavy Metal Roots Of New York Hardcore

Riche from Sick Of It All & Rob from Straight Ahead/Rest In Pieces headbanging in 1983.
I just wrote this article about Metalheads who went Hardcore during the mid-1980's scene. Check it out here:
                                      


Nick Lord from YDL outside Studio 54 in 1985.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Latinos in NYHC & Punk 1985-1990

                                                                
Javier Villegas w/Born Against @Abc No Rio. Photo by Tim Singer

                 The good folks at No Echo website asked me to do a part 2 of my Hispanics in NYHC article. Here's the link: 

http://www.noecho.net/features/the-hispanic-impact-on-the-early-new-york-hardcore-scene-part-2-freddy-alva

 These are bunch of photos of people featured in the article that were not used for the final piece:

John John Jesse from Nausea drumming for Trauma in 1986 @Tin Pan Alley. Photo by Sam Moon Rafferty


Gavin Van Vlack playing w/Absolution @CBGB's 1988.


Sergio Vega from Quicksand/The Deftones in Washington Sq Park 1986.


Roy Mayorga from Nausea drumming for Youthquake in 1986.


Hoya Roc from Madball/Dmize in Corona, Queens 1983.


Jimmy Williams from Maximum Penalty outside CBGB's 1988.


"Lusty" Lou Morales & The Twins: Hector & Edwin Nieves in Sunset Park, Brooklyn


Rich Derespina & Ed Sayago from All For One @Giant Studios 1987.


Chiqui from Dmize in the middle 1990.


Maurice Vega from Under Pressure @Sundance 1988.


Gus SXE Pena w/Discipline 1989.


Minus & SOB


Ike Proud drumming & Andrew Monserrate on guitar w/Stand Proud 1988.


Marcos Siega from Bad Trip in 1990.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

That Obscure Passion: Post-Punk in 1980's Peru

Voz Propia 
                                                                        

          The trajectory of England's late '70s/early '80s post-punk sounds cut a wide swath of influence worldwide, making an unlikely and influential stop in Peru. Imported lp's by Joy Division, The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees plus tons of other like-minded outfits were quickly dubbed & disseminated among music obsessed teenagers in the capital of Lima. Something about the angular riffs, poetic lyrics & overall bleak atmospheric ambiance in the post-punk sound struck a chord, in a way mirroring the tense political & economic reality the country was going through. Lima's seasonal changes also greatly affects the national character. For four months of the year, the city is clothed in a dull gray sky with intermittent showers called the "Garua". This leads it's inhabitants to slip into a gloom of seasonal depression, all fertile ground for a musical genre rooted in melancholia & existential subject matter.
      It wasn't until 1985 that the first post-punk bands formed & due to the lack of music producing resources in the country, a good amount of the original bands never managed to record more than cassette demos, with a few notable exceptions. The parallel 'Rock Subterraneo' movement happening at the time in Lima, comprised of more straight forward punk & hardcore bands, criss-crossed & overlapped these post-punk groups. At one time or another, they shared concerts/equipment/band members in a tight incestuous scene that swore allegiance to different musical genres, the great common denominator being a stubborn refusal to remain apart from the mainstream & what the national rock scene was marketing as contemporary rock youth culture.
     The following list of bands is not complete one, but it does showcase the more important ones, ranging from short-lived projects to long-standing ones that managed to stay together & record bodies of work that rival anything the cold industrial post-punk epicenters like Manchester ever produced.

DELIRIOS KRONIKOS
 Arguably one of the first post-punk bands that formed in 1985 with members of local Punk bands Leuzemia & Flema. Their material ranged from dark slower dirges to up-tempo melodic numbers that made them a perfect fit for blending in with the more punk sounding bands in the Rock Subterraneo scene. A short lived band, their recorded output of an 8 song demo plus live cuts will be released as an Lp by RockSvb records in 2014.
                                  
video
                                                
                                                              
VOZ PROPIA
  The undisputed standard bearers of this sound that managed to stay together long enough to record & continue playing consistently since their formation in 1985. They almost came close to being signed to CBS/Columbia in 1987 but their material was deemed too "anti-commercial by the record label. A famous incident at a concert where they threw dead pigeons & the lead singer spat on the crowd while stomping an American flag probably didn't help matters. They continue to this day, having released several full lengths, laying down a rich body of work that encompasses Post-Punk, Dark Wave & Gothic stylings. This song is a favorite off their heavily Bauhaus influenced 2nd demo from 1988.
                                            
video


LOS FEUDALES
   Formed in 1985 by Fernando "Cachorro"Vial, the guitarist of punk band Narcosis. Fernando is one of the prime movers in this scene, doing a Post-Punk fanzine called "Pasajeros Del Horror" with Jaime Higa as well as starting 2 more electronic post-punk projects called Pompeya & Paisajes Electronicos. Los Feudales recorded a demo in 1986 that's heavily influenced by Siouxsie/The Cure as well as post-punk bands from Spain like Decima Victima & Paralisis Permanente. This YouTube link lists the demo incorrectly as from 1992, it's actually the full 9 song demo from 1986.

video
                                          
SALON DADA
  An evenly split between the sexes band that formed in 1986, playing previously in Punk bands Excomulgados & Eutanasia. They recorded a 4 song demo & disbanded by 1987. Their literary lyrics quoted existential French poets such as Antoine Artaud & native Peruvian writers all the while sounding like if the Au Pairs or The Raincoats came from Lima & sang in Spanish. Bassist/Singer Tamira Bassallo & guitarist Jaime De Lama would go on to start the more melodic pop band Col Corazon in 1989.

video
                                        

SIN KURA
  Formed by one of the ex-singers of pioneer post-punk band DELIRIOS KRONIKOS in 1987. They lasted for a couple of years before breaking up in 1989. No demos exist from that period except for some choice live videos like this one from '87, showcasing their heavy The Cure/New Order sound. They recently did a reunion show in 2013 in Lima, after not playing for 24 years. Check out their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/FansDeSinKura?ref=br_tf

video
                                
                     
LIMA 13
This band started in 1984 as a full on Punk band, broke up & restarted up again in 1987 with a new gothic influenced post-punk sound, white face make-up and all. Taking clues from Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission UK, This Mortal Coil; they strove to recreate London's original "Batcave" gothic scene both visually & musically. They reunited in 2009 & continued playing up to their big farewell show in 2013,
https://www.facebook.com/lima13oficial

                                                      
video
                                                  
CARDENALES
   Starting out as a post-punk band in 1987, heavily influenced by Joy Division. Initially recording 2 demos in the late 1980's, they would go on to radically alter their sound during the 90's. Incorporating elements of pop, grunge, commercial rock even employing a DJ for a trip-hop/electronic period. They managed to put out 4 albums, charting their musical evolution, but it is these 2 demos: "Tormenta Silenciosa ('88)" & "Rompiendo El Silencio ('89)" that earns them a place in the Peruvian post-punk pantheon.

video
                                  
DISIDENTES
  The first band in Peru to employ a more extreme Industrial post-punk influence of bands like Einsturzeden Neubaten, Throbbing Gristle & Controlled Bleeding. Their live shows combined a slide show of bleak modern day images and apocalyptic sounds reporting on the automated & dehumanized existence of daily life in Lima. Lasting only between 1987-1988, some of the members would go on to start in 1989 the more Techno/Industrial dance outfit T De Cobre.


video


EXTRANA MISSION
  A short lived band that formed part of the Visual & Theatrical movement know as Level 14. This art collective did fanzines, wrote anarchist graffiti & supported alternative bands in a non-commercial fashion. The following song is from their one & only demo from 1988 that was later reissued on CD. They recently reunited for a reunion concert in 2013.


video
                              

SOR OBSCENA
   Great band that went for a more atmospheric The Sound/Comsat Angels influenced songs. They existed between 1987-1989, with their original singer going on to form the Alternative Rock band Dolores Delirio in the 1990's. This song is off their one & only demo from 1989.

video
                                        

Honorable Mention: NARCOSIS "Danza De Los Cristales"
   Narcosis are known as one of the most influential Hardcore/Punk bands from Peru, their 1985 demo is a benchmark of the scene in it's formative stages. Amidst the bile & fury of the 13 songs included on said demo, they found the time to do this more atmospheric gloomier tune that served as an inspiration for the post-punk bands to come. It's no wonder that the author of this tune, guitarist Fernando Vial, would start the post-punk outfit Los Feudales as Narcosis broke up in late 1985.
                  

video



Thank you so much to Sandro Dogma & Cachorro for all the info, here's a link to a cool blog that has most of the above mentioned bands recordings for download:
http://obscuraescencia.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hispanics Causing Panic In The Early NYHC Scene

         
       One of the more enduring motifs in the development of American Hardcore is the oft-repeated description of this burgeoning youth subculture as being a predominantly white suburban dominated one. While this might have been true in certain quarters of the nation during the HC explosion in the early 1980's, the situation in NYC looked a bit different. Kids growing up in New York's 5 boroughs & beyond, came from extremely varied national origins, the Latino one being an especially prominent one. Waves of immigration, starting in the 1950's, from Puerto Rico/Cuba/Dominican Republic plus subsequent ones from South & Central America in later decades, gave rise to generations straddling a bilingual gravitational pull. As Punk transitioned into Hardcore by 1980, the epicenter of this new music came to be centered around a mostly Hispanic neighborhood: Manhattan's Lower East Side or Loisaida, as the locals called it.
 The following list of people with a Hispanic background from the early years is a tribute to those that represented this music all the while dealing with the usual adversarial forces of school/family/peers plus the extra layer of identity related issues prevalent among 1st generation born or recently arrived immigrants to America. I focused on band members & scenesters that were involved in the early years of the scene, circa 1980-1985. I know that tons of other people from a Hispanic background came after that era, and are still involved now, but I'll let someone else document them.

Let's move on to some of the pioneers that lived 'La Vida Loca' during those halcyon hardcore days...

Denise Mercedes, Nick Marden & Harley Flanagan from THE STIMULATORS
      Denise is half Dominican/Spaniard, along with 2nd Stimulators bassist Nick Marden (1/2 Mexican from California) & Harley Flanagan (Dominican/Spaniard heritage) played in this influential band. Their song M.A.C.H.I.N.E., from '78 or '79, is a crucial component to the development of the music as it is one of the first Hardcore sounding songs from NYC. Nick also coined the term 'Loud Fast Rules', an important rallying cry for the short haired HC set.
Harley would go on to form the quintessential NYHC band: The Cro-Mags.

Denise w/guitar, Nick in back & a 12 year old Harley.
                                
Roger Miret from AGNOSTIC FRONT-
    Born Rogelio De Jesus in Havana, Cuba. Roger's family immigrated to the states in 1968. He played bass in several bands in the NY/NJ area before becoming AF's vocalist in 1982, just in time for their seminal 'United Blood' ep from 1983. AF's 2011 Lp "My Life My Way" featured a HC song sung entirely in Spanish. Roger's younger brother, Freddy Miret, grew up jumping on stage & singing AF songs. He would go on to start the late '80s NYHC outfit Madball. 
                                                
Roger's passport from 1964.

Robb Nunzio & Louie Rivera from ANTIDOTE
   Original singer Louie is Puerto Rican & Guitarist Robb is of Puerto Rican/Italian descent. Their 1983 "Thou Shalt Not Kill" ep set the tone for what would become the NYHC sound: vicious fast tunes with underlying metal influences. Antidote still continues 'til this day, always the Real Deal. As Robb says: "That's what made us so good, 2 PR's & 2 Mc's (Irish)!"
    
NYHC Boricuas outside CBGB's: Robb & Louie in 1983

Eric J Casanova from the CRO-MAGS-
     Original Cro-Mags singer Eric Casanova is of Puerto Rican descent & grew up in Astoria, Queens. He is credited with writing the lyrics to "Life Of My Own" & co-writing with Harley other classic Cro-Mags tunes like "Hard Times" & "Street Justice". He played with them from '82-'84 & left for personal reasons. Rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated as he's been spotted as of late, still living in NYC.

Eric Casanova @CBGB's 1984

Javier Madariaga from HEART ATTACK
     Javier was originally from Mexico City & played in one of the 1st NYHC bands that put a record out, Heart Attack's "God Is Dead" ep  from 1981. He also went on play in Reagan Youth, A.P.P.L.E. as well as his own solo projects. He is credited with playing what would become known as the 1st recorded version of the "Blastbeat" drum pattern, as heard on the song "From What I See" off their 1983 "Keep Your Distance 12". This drum pattern would become a big influence on the extreme HC/Metal hybrid known as Grindcore.

Javier  Madariaga @The Peppermint Lounge 1983

Dito Montiel & Ray Parada from MAJOR CONFLICT
    Orlandito Montiel is the son of a Nicaraguan immigrant & an Irish mother. Ray Parada's family comes from Spain. They both grew up in Astoria, Queens & started Major Conflict in 1982, sharing members with another classic NYHC band: Urban Waste. Dito went on to a modeling career & is currently an award winning director. Ray went on to sing for the late 80's band A-Bomb-A-Nation & along with his brother Ernie Parada from Token Entry, represent a long musical footnote in NYHC's history.
    
Ray 2nd from left & Dito in the middle, 1982.

Jose Gonzales from THE MOB
        Jose "Ho" Gonzales was a Dominican teenager from Jackson Heights, Queens & in 1980 helped form one the classic NYHC bands: The Mob. He played on both their 7"s & Lp as well as joining HR, from the Bad Brains, Zion Train project in the late 1980's. The Mob still play out periodically & continue to release new recordings.

Jose Gonzales @CBGB's in 1984

Tony Dust & Paul Dordal- Lower East Side Skinheads
       Tony Dust was a Puerto Rican skinhead from Brooklyn & along with Paul, of Puerto Rican/French descent, contributed to the development of the NYHC mindset. Tony never played in a band & Paul tried to w/Harley but they were both influential skinheads that hung out on the LES. According to Sean Taggart in 1981: "Paul had dropped out of school, went out to California, hung out at the Black Flag church, was there when Henry joined. He did the LA hardcore thing & came back as a Skinhead". He instructed kids on how to shave their hair & what fashions looked too "punk", he also wrote the Murphys Law song 'California Pipeline'. Tony was notorious for starting fights & right of center politics, views they both shared. His younger cousin, Javier (SOB) Carpio, was a prominent member of the Sunset Park Skins & would form the 90's metal-core band Merauder. RIP SOB

Tony Dust far left w/the Matinee crew 1983. Photo by Drew Carolan       

Paul Dordal on the right, outside CBGB's. Photo by Karen Sullivan
                                              
Ernie Parada from TOKEN ENTRY
    Ernie's parents are from Spain & he started Gilligans Revenge in 1980 with friends from his neighborhood in Astoria, Queens. Along with various line-up changes, they became Token Entry in 1984. He later went on to play in In Your Face, Black Train Jack, Arsons, Higher Giant & is currently in Grey Area as well as being a successful commercial illustrator.

Ernie 2nd from left w/Gilligan's Revenge in 1982

Abraham Rodriguez from URGENT FURY
               Abraham is a Puerto Rican raised in the South Bronx. In 1980 he started a band called White Riot which morph into Urgent Fury in 1982. Their more melodic strain of highly politically charged HC set them apart from what was going on in NYHC at the time, as demonstrated on their '84 demo. Abraham recently resurrected Urgent Fury with new members, he's also an accomplished writer. Check out an interview I did with him a couple of years ago: http://quixoticdreamsnyc.blogspot.com/2011/03/abraham-rodriguez-so-bronx-tale.html
              
Abraham Rodriguez @CBGB's in 1985

Jose Ochoa from LEEWAY
      Jose is of Colombian descent & along with some friends from his neighborhood in Astoria, Queens started up The Unruled in 1983. Credited with bringing a heavy crossover metal influence into the NYHC sound, they would change their name to Leeway by 1984.
        
Jose on the cover of Leeway's '85 Enforcer Demo
                                     
Jorge Herrera from THE CASUALTIES
     Jorge from The Casualties is known more as 90's punk phenomenon but Jorge's roots in the NYC scene lie deeper. Originally from Ecuador, he immigrated to the states in 1980 & started hanging out in the CBGB's scene soon after, he's in the crowd shot of Agnostic Front's 'Victim In Pain' Lp from 1984. He also started a short-lived band w/future Quicksand/The Deftones & Puerto Rican bassist Sergio Vega along with Chile-born Soledad Villanueva.

                                                     
Soledad & Jorge in 1985.

I could go on & on with tons of more examples like:
- Chris Colon (Hamilton), 1/2 Puerto rican singer of the ARMED CITIZENS
- a bunch of young Cuban teenagers that had a short lived band called NO REMORSE circa '85.
- Dominican Ralphie Boy, Squat Or Rot founder & Jesus Chrust/Disassociate singer.
- Rudy Ruiz fron Bronx HC/Metalheads THE UNJUST
- Early AGNOSTIC FRONT bassist Diego
    Not to mention all the post-'85 Latinos that started bands, did fanzines/record labels, hung out in the scene; something that continues to flourish to this day in the ever expanding universe known as NYHC.

Huge thanks to Ken Wagner, Sean Taggart, Loizos Gatzaris, Drew Stone, Denise Mercedes, Nunzio, Ray Parada, Mark Yoshitomi & Soledad Villanueva for all the info.

Like AF sang, this is for:
"Esto es para todos de la escuela nueva y para todos de la escuela vieja".
 
                                                                                                                                    

                                                  
              



Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Cause in 1989

                                                                                  

        It seems like everyone that loves music has at one point tried to make their own, the outcome being determined by one's inherent musical talent or lack therefore of it. I would definitely fall into the latter camp. By 1988 I was fully engrossed in the booming NY Hardcore scene: doing a fanzine, going to shows, buying as many demos/7"s/ Lp's & just soaking up the culture as much as I could.
         I decided to attempt playing guitar, got a cheap Sears catalog guitar/amp combo & enlisted a couple of friends to "jam" in my garage. I thought playing Oi! would suit my purposes better at this time before playing any faster (& harder to learn) HC jams. We formed an Oi! band, tentatively called " Last Cause" & set out to write simple 2-chord songs. We had a couple of practices where we didn't really get much done, preferring to pack up everything up when bored & pile into drummer Wayne's car  instead & cruise around northern Queens with our singer Roy making fun of the local Guidos.
         Things soon fizzled out as Paul the bassist joined a real practicing/writing songs all-the-time band called Fit Of Anger. I also got really busy at the time with putting together a compilation tape w/my friend Chaka Malik, which would become the New Breed Tape Compilation.



Bleecker Bob's ad looking for band members. No Metal!
                                                                 
          In early '89, I somehow got the idea to get a band going again & record a song for inclusion on the comp. I answered an ad on the wall of Bleecker Bob's records for a guitarist looking to start a HC band. The guy that placed the ad, John Patterson, turned out to be really cool; we had a lot of the same musical references so I brought back the name Last Cause & decided to use it for this new line-up. We quickly set out to recruit members, a couple of upstate NY guys answered our ad: Mike (vocals) John (bass) & a drummer (Ted Gogoll) was introduced to us by mutual friend Tom Colomara.
          John Patterson wrote a couple of songs & showed me where to place my fingers for the chord progressions as I was always really inept in that department. We jammed a couple of times at a real rehearsal space called Big Fun but got banned for allegedly damaging some equipment. I wrote lyrics to 2 songs that we had music for (No New Dreams & Days Gone By). Mike enthusiastically sang what I'd written, it was such a cool feeling to have someone else perform something you've had a hand in creating.
           As the New Breed comp was almost ready, we rushed into Don Fury's studio to record the songs & pick the best version. The details are fuzzy but for some reason or other, our bassist John couldn't make the recording so I asked my friend Chris Benetos from Fit Of Anger to fill in on bass, to which he graciously agreed. We picked "No New Dreams" to be our contribution to the compilation.



                                                                       
           We had no clue what we were doing in the studio so we just pressed record & ran through the song just like at rehearsal. The finished product was not like I wanted it to be at the time so I scrapped the idea of putting it on the comp. Honestly, after listening to the material bands like Absolution, Collapse, Beyond & others that had submitted songs for the compilation; I felt intimidated that our stuff wasn't up to par or that my lack of talent held the band back. We disbanded soon after, Mike moved on to sing for this upstate NY band called Powersurge, John Patterson & Ted moved on to other projects, John the bassist disappeared & I hung up my guitar for good.
            I purposely never labeled the tape were the recording was so it got lost in between the hundreds of cassettes I have. It wasn't through reconnecting with Ted a couple of years ago, that I heard those recordings once again. I have to say that in retrospect, they're not that bad, no better or worse than some of the stuff that was around back then. Me & Ted had a discussion that, at the time, I thought we were going for an Agnostic Front "United Blood" sound on those songs, he thought we were attempting more of a Supertouch groove-like vibe. Funny how perceptions are so different! At times, under the right circumstances, the song sounds to me like early Die Kruezen with mosh parts, at other times, it's like Youth Of Today covering Project X or vice versa.



"Introspective" lyrics written by me for our 2nd song.
                                                          
            25 years later, I am proud to have been part of this, to have the chance to experience what the camaraderie of being in a band entails. Doing logos, shirts, lyrics, going to the CBGB's matinees on sundays after rehearsing... All great memories to which I'm forever thankful to the guys in the band.


I'm also glad to still be in touch with John Patterson & Ted Gogoll.

I'm happy to report that they persisted in creative endeavors, John played guitar in the hugely underrated HC/Metal band Taste Of Fear in 1992. In the mid-90's he started the heavy electronics project Woe Is Me, which he continues 'til this day. Check it out at:
http://woe1.wordpress.com/

Ted Gogoll has become a published writer with his novel called "Echoes Of A Killing" & a collection of short stories on the way. Check it out at:
https://www.facebook.com/EchoesOfAKilling

As far as Mike the singer & John the bassist, haven't spoken to them in ages, but I recently got their phone numbers. Time I give them a call!


Hand-screened shirt done by John Patterson in 1989.




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Freestyle Forever

Freestyle Ground Zero: The Funhouse on 26th St.
          
               Ah, Freestyle. The sound of unrequited love in a melodramatic lyrical form sung over electro beats as performed by mostly hispanic/black kids from NYC's 5 boroughs circa the 1980's & early '90s. Just like other regional musical sub-genres, such as Washington DC's go-go scene, Freestyle never broke out on a national scale. Clubs like the Funhouse, the Saint, L'amours East; played host to a vibrant subculture that staked out a unique identity with its own fashion & rituals that stood out in stark contrast to that other "inner city" phenomenon taking place simultaneously: the nascent Hip-Hop scene.
                Hundreds of local 12"s were released with hit single potential, major labels started sniffing around & found Freestyle performers that could be groomed for the big leagues, local radio stations played the hell out of their material with a rabid fan base that was expanding outside of NYC; everything seemed ready for Freestyle to crossover on to a major scale & then...things fizzled out. 
                Whether it was the ascendence of other dance genres like House/Techno, the reluctance of major labels to promote an urban-centric sound or even the stylistic limitations of the music itself; we'll never really know what caused Freestyle to implode & become a cherished musical memory for people of a certain age.
              I've done this top ten list as a tribute to those times & for my wife who is the Freestyle Queen. So, get those silk dress shirts on with the pleated pants & rolled up cuffs. Slip into a pair of Capezios, style that hair with Aqua Net. Spray yourself with a dash of Dakar & finish off the look with a stylish long black leather trench coat.

My Top Ten:
   A classic  by Noel that embodies all the melancholic qualities of the genre. After a loud night, all you're left with sometimes is a...


Cynthia is one of the undisputed queens of Freestyle that went back to a regular 9 to 5 job once the spotlight faded, like so many in this music.


 No Freestyle list would be complete without Tony, Kayel & Angel!


I saw Nayobe perform this in 1985, at a roller skating rink in Queens, great memories!

                                
Coro acted in tons of episodes of Miami Vice before starting his Freestyle career which still continues to this day, god bless him.


Brooklyn born & Miami raised diva Debbie Deb sang this haunting tune that has been sampled to death. If there's any kind of justice out there, she's received royalties, we can only hope...


Watch this video for the clothes, dancing, old NYC footage & of course; the charismatic Mr. Lamond. Baffles me why he didn't become a Megastar.


There were many Freestyle girl groups & the Cover Girls were the torchbearers. If you're a female & grew up listening to this music, you know the dance moves for this song like the back of your hand.


Judy Torres is one of the few performers to successfully transition from the Freestyle era to House music & other dance genres that continually update her profile to newer audiences, kudos!


This stone cold classic by Lisa Lisa was a huge hit in the pop market & seemed to herald a Freestyle invasion that sadly didn't happen. I always remember a high school buddy of mine dropping out to become a back up dancer for her. I wonder whatever happened to him...



Those are my favorite tracks, any Freestyle connoisseur would probably disagree & substitute their picks, but we can all agree this song by Shannon laid down the foundation, so much so, that Freestyle was also called the "Shannon Sound" in the beginning. This along with Afrikkaa Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" & Jellybean Benitez's "The Mexican", are the main components that kicked off the party.



See you all at the annual Freestyle reunion concert held at Madison Square Garden!