Club Heaven Sound System: Collection

Club Heaven, a primarily Black LGBT club, gave life. But it was not alone. Explore the venues, promoters, and DJs of the City’s historic club continuum.

Tweeter from Club Heaven Sound System, c. 1980s. Purchased and serviced by Audio Lite on Detroit’s West Side, the speakers inside Club Heaven created a space for primarily gay and black youths to express themselves through dance in the 1980s and ’90s. Ken Collier became the “Godfather of Techno” behind the DJ booth of the club, situated at the corner of 7 Mile and Woodward. Heaven is gone and Collier died in 1996, but this tweeter remains a symbol of their shared legacy. Photo: Jeremy Deputat / Text: Carleton Gholz

Updated 12 October 2020

Since its founding in 2012, Detroit Sound Conservancy has been committed to preserving the memory of Detroit’s contributions to global dance culture. In 2017, this commitment deepened with the gift of the Club Heaven Sound System. As part of our community engagement and eventual activation of the system, we have organized source materials below from our collections and online that begin to tell the breadth of Detroit’s “underground” (predominantly Black, queer, and not celebrated outside of its community ecosystem during its heyday) musical story in a local, national, and international context, from the days of disco to the rise of the Movement Festival.

If you have any questions, edits, or additions, please contact us at or call direct at 313 757 5082. 


Click here to see an interactive map of Detroit’s based on scholar Tim Retzloff’s work documenting gay bars in Detroit. 

Back Street (formerly Escape)



The Chessmate

Explore our programming around The Chessmate. 

Club Heaven

Downstair’s Pub


Famous Door

Gas Station

Iron Hinge

Latin Quarter



Music Institute

Off Broadway East


Studio 54







DJs, Performers, Pools, and Promoters

A partial list of local DJs, performers, and promoters who were seminal to the formation and flowering of Detroit’s underground dance culture.

Advanced Music Promotions

Duane “In The Mix” Bradley

Patrick Burton

Gregory Collier

Hear an interview with Collier here.

Ken Collier

Hear an interview with Collier here.

John “Jammin'” Collins

Dance Detroit (formerly Disco Pool Detroit)

Link to our Dance Detroit Collection page.

Photo of DJs Morris Mitchell and Butch Duncan at Movement 2011. Photographer Carleton Gholz. Courtesy of Carleton Gholz Collection.

Butch Duncan

Lee Eckinger

Al Ester

Scott “Go Go” Gordon

Hear an interview with Gordon.

A photograph of DJ Stacey Hale performing during our Dance Detroit Reunion in 2015.

Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale (Professional website)

Melvin Hill

Michael Huckaby

Jerry Johnson

Jason Kendig

John Kryston


Midwestern Dance Association

Jeff “The Wizard” Mills

Morris Mitchell

Listen to an interview with Mitchell here.

Nancy Mitchell

Steve Nader (1955-2011)

Read an obituary here.

Chad Novak

Hear a mix by Novak here.

Tony Peoples

Dawn Porter

Enola Porter

Aaron Carl Ragland

Steven Reaume

Larry Saunders

Kevin Saunderson

Mike Servito

Zana Smith

Jim Stone

Adriel Thornton

From Stonewall to Heaven event at LGBT Detroit 2019. From L to R: Damon Percy, LaToya Ross, DJ Cent, Erica Carter, and Cornelius Wilson.

Cynthia “DJ Cent” Travis

Hear an oral history with Cent.

True Disco

United Dance Music Association


Elton Weathers

Renaldo White

Dale Willis

Darryl Wynn

Houses and Personalities

Erica Carter




LaToya Ross


Dennis Ashby


Between the Lines


Gayly Speaking





Detroit Sound Conservancy At-Large Board Member Lee Simmons (1960-2020) with the Club Heaven Sound System at LGBT Detroit’s event space in 2019.

National Alumni

A partial list of DJs and performers beyond Detroit who were seminal to the formation and flowering of Detroit’s underground dance culture.

Frankie Knuckles

Larry Levan

Tee Scott

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