"Making Music For You"The Biography of My Early Dj Years And History of Brooklyn's Legendary Dj Specialty Shop Owned By My Father Steven Dallal
1312 Kings Highway, Brooklyn only months before it closed it's doors after 33 years of legendary history including pioneering what would become the Dj Specialty shop concept that helped shape New York City Dance Music Culture for decades.
CHAPTER ONE: STEVEN'S STEREO
In 1974, Steven's Stereo was the name of my father's first business of his own. Located on the corner of E14th St. and 4th Avenue in Manhattan, He sold mainly cameras, phonograph turntables (lol), vinyl and would eventually specialize in 12" Disco Singles. He had those head shop black light posters. My favorite was the Jefferson Starship dragon poster with Grace Slick riding it. The shop was literally across the street from the Palladium in a building long since torn down (now a Food Emporium/Condo) and was about as big as bathtub it was so tiny!
ABOVE: This is my grandfather Salim Dallal in my Dad's shop on 14st in NYCABOVE: Steven's Stereo was originally located opposite the legendary nightclub the Palladium, which would later become the stage for two majorly influential chapters of my career...
WEST 12th STREET
ABOVE: First Presbyterian Church, around the block from my father's apartment on W 12 street
Recently divorced from my mother, my father moved into the West Village (W12th bet. 5th and 6th, you gagging yet?) from New Jersey and I spent every weekend & summer with him at his store and his apartment. He used to bring my sister and I home a new LP record or 45 single every week and gave us two matching little kiddie victrolas to play them on.
He would later realize the mistake in buying us each our own copy of everything, we immediately became obsessed with all music and our budding record collections. We were so spoiled we insisted in having our own copies of everything! That meant buying two copies of Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume One. Two copies of Elton John's 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' double LP now that we heard the greatest hits and decided that Elton John & Bernie Taupin were the greatest songwriters in the world... He would complain in his Israeli accent, "...WHY CAN'T YOU TWO SHARE? WHY DO YOU NEED TWO CHEAP TRICK AT BUDOKAN? WHY? WHY TWO KISS ALIVE?!! IT'S A DOUBLE LP!!"
Even at the naive age of 5 it only took me a about half a second to realize how NYC was the polar opposite from everything I knew. It was something very special and amazing, miles ahead of everywhere else in the world. I wanted to be nowhere else ever since and knew I was now instantaneously cooler than anyone I knew or would EVER know. I was a 5 year old music snob, except my favorite band was Kiss! I've also never been comfortable in any other city my entire life.
You have to understand this was New York City in the late 70's... a much more bohemian, and artsy village than the awful Hollywood parody MTV version we know today, it was safer yet more dangerous and beautiful, and I used to like when my dad would take me to Washington Square Park to hang with his neighborhood Rasta friends that were always playing really good Reggae music and smoking pot and shit. By the late 70's another miracle had happened. Disco! I know you may scratch your head at this but this wasn't the time of Ethel Merman doing disco albums, this was the time of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, and my father had evolved into the disco king of NYC (young, single, and loovvvvvvvves to mingle) and occasionally (very irresponsibly i note now with hindsight, lol!) brought a 6-7yr old me with him to his favorite nightclubs every weekend, like The Library and Adam's Apple (I later found out this was a gay spot) where I was told to stay with his various girlfriends in the coat check area while he 'went to dance for 5 minutes' which usually took about 3 hours.
His first of many girlfriends to come somehow all named LAURA or JAIMIE, worked the coat check at the Library and never seemed to notice me escape to the dance floor myself! I loved how everybody hung out in these places TOGETHER, dancing to this amazing music TOGETHER being positive and sexy and FREE.
Back in New Jersey being the only 'white' kid in a predominantly black and hispanic school meant I got picked on a lot. Got my ass kicked quite a few times too. I've always joked that my name throughout grade school all the way to high school wasn't Uri, it was, "YO WHITE BOY!" which was usually followed by, "Gimme yo lunch money or I'll FUCK YOU UP!" I thought these kids had very small minds. How I left that town without becoming a total racist is beyond me. But that's my point. Steven's Stereo and Music Factory actually saved my life. Well, music saved my life, really. I was just incredibly lucky to have that outlet and that one thing that made me so much cooler and mentally superior (at least in my own mind): MUSIC. I was always up on everything music. I spent days, months, years, combing through the record shelves searching through every album whether I liked the artist or not. I read Billboard every week, peeked at the naked girls on bicycles in the Queen promotional poster, I had albums weeks and months before they were commercially released. So to be able to escape to the West Village every weekend from the small minded vermin I was forced to endure on a daily basis was an absolute godsend. Initially the West Village was completely alien to me but I thought it was the most amazing place I'd ever been to.
Now forgive me, but this was exactly what the kids who regularly kicked my ass and one specific art teacher I had at school said didn't and more importantly couldn't exist while looking at me like I should be ashamed of myself or stealing my money! Funny how my chorus teacher's assistant Mr. Cole (aka David Cole), one of the genuinely good teachers at my high school would be helping to launch the Chicago House Music sound co-writing and producing the legendary "Do It Properly" while I was getting my butt kicked outside the classroom. If I only knew then what I know now...
Well here I am with these bizarre and extremely cool looking people and they seem to have already BEEN living that dream for awhile, the way it looks. After a while I became more brave and ventured out from behind the speakers until I was discovered to be a child and not a little person. What really struck me about these places aside from the driving beat and drums but the people here didn't seem to care about that small minded shit my friends did in jersey. They seemed too cool to even care! This was leading somewhere. It lead back to New Jersey where "it" happened. No, not what you're thinking, get your mind out of the gutter!
Late summer 1975. I was over a friend's house around the block from my mom's. The kid was moving the next day or week or something, so I apologize to him because I'll be damned if I will ever know his name. Nobody was home and everything in his house was in boxes. We snuck into his brother's room because he wanted to show me something that was apparently really cool before anyone came home. Floor to ceiling were giant jumbo wall posters of the rock band Kiss. I had never seen anything so cool in my entire life. The makeup, the costumes, the fantasy, they looked like superheroes! Then the kid put on "Alive!" and I was transported to the place I had didn't even know I had been looking for.
It was through these experiences that I realized I wanted to learn to play an instrument (I still say I'm a better drummer than I am a Dj), that music could mean FREEDOM on some level. probably not in such an eloquent manner (hell-OO i took 'PUSH PUSH IN THE BUSH' literally, and thought these three chicks on the cover had some hide 'n' go seek game that involved running through bushes... lol). But i was something I always strove for and searched for in friendship, which i wouldn't really discover again with a goup of... INDIVIDUALS (as opposed to the common herd)... until I was dragged by my friend Yvette to the Tunnel years later and heard House Music for the first time and completely fell in love. This universal acceptance of anyone who wanted to be down type of idealism that House Music boasted really appealed to me. I actually thought it was a very Punk Rock attitude to have; House-heads didn't care whether you liked them or not and if you were down, the more the merrier.
People hear the word 'DISCO' and cringe! But it's sad how they don't understand, this was not 'I will survive' or ethel merman doing disco versions of her standards that I was hearing for my soundtrack back then, it was GQ (Disco Nights), and Voyage (Souveiniers) , Heatwave (Boogie Nights) and 'SUPERNATURE' by Cerrone and the FOREVER PLAYING of that Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band album from start to finish OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVAH. There simply wasn't a Studio 54 yet. This was '74 not '77.
The music was funky and wierd and sexy, groundbreaking, crazy and ORIGINAL, which made it seem more 'Punk' than Punk if you ask me...
I always felt that Punk Rockers themselves have always been the ones to fuck up the killer originality based Punk Rock concept pioneered by the Ramones and continue to do so to this day with thier limiting rules and somehow managed to turn that original outrageous look into mere 'uniforms'. With the total exclusion of the Clash of course...
To be continued on Chapter Two:
a picture says a thousand words...
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