Sonic Gates

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DETROIT, MI — The Detroit Sound Conservancy (DSC) is pleased to present Sonic Gates a spirited party dedicated to the musical legacy of Detroit’s rich DJ history and the audiences that helped it thrive. The event will pay tribute to the legendary Ken Collier and Club Heaven and will be held May 9th at The Whisky Parlor ( at 608 Woodward, Floor 2, in downtown Detroit. The event features an intergenerational lineup of DJs committed to both sweaty revelry and celebrating history. Earlybird tickets can be bought for $10 online via Eventbrite ( All proceeds will go to the DSC in their efforts to preserve and amplify the stories and sounds of Detroit music.

Ken Collier was a seminal DJ from a cohort of Detroit DJs (a cohort that included his own, still-living, younger brother Greg) who began their careers with disco in the 1970s and helped produce the culture of Detroit house and techno that is now known throughout the world. Ken’s particular career peaked on the corner of 7 Mile and Woodward at Club Heaven in the early 1990s, where he inspired a primarily young, gay, black crowd, as well as a smattering of Detroit’s early rave scene to express themselves through dance. Two decades later, Heaven is gone and so is Collier, who died in 1996. However, many still remember, from Detroiters who danced on the speakers to those whose primary experience of Collier’s generation is through rare mixtapes and urban legends. This party then promotes a collaboration between former Club Heaven regular and Collier DJ-disciple veteran, Cynthia “DJ Cent” Travis ( and Temple Bar denizens, Jon Dones and Ash Nowak, the more contemporaneous party throwers behind Haute to Death ( / Both artists, the first for over twenty years, the latter for the last eight, have built a reputation as a haven for their open, expressive, and, at times, hedonistic devotees.

According to Dones, “Projects like this are essential to solidifying and amplifying legacy especially when these influential characters go unrecognized or are just overshadowed.” Nowak agrees: “That’s what is so fascinating and inspiring about the pre-techno era that Ken Collier was such a central figure in. Not many of the younger people, or even many outside of Detroit, realize this history exists. You just want to know more and more.” Cent, who DJs in clubs as well as on the radio for WJLB’s Club Insomnia show early on Sunday mornings, has provided a portion of that knowledge to Dones and Nowak with a briefcase of cassette tapes and a barrage of emotionally resonant dance floor memories. “My respect and love for Ken’s style, the music he played, and the way he played it, had a huge influence on me wanting to become a DJ. As soon as I would arrive at Heavens I would go to the DJ booth and get my tape, in the pocket it went and I danced the night away. The next day the tape was copied and the duplicate was what I drove around listening to. It’s time to put the music out here for the history to be heard, that’s what’s needed!”

The announcement of this event is just the first in a number of events the DSC has planned this spring and summer including a music tour with Detroit Bus Company on May 9th, their annual Detroit Sound Conference at the Detroit Public Library on May 22, and an upcoming collaboration with Allied Media Projects for their Allied Media Conference June 18th-21st. In addition, the DSC continues ongoing advisory work for United Sound Systems’ efforts to establish an historic district by the City of Detroit, preservation activism around the artifacts of the former Graystone International Jazz Museum, and engagement with the current owner of the Blue Bird Inn on Detroit’s West Side. More information on these and other projects can be found on the DSC website (, as well as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud. The DSC was formed in 2012 to increase awareness of and support to Detroit’s imaginative musical heritage through advocacy and education in a spirit of vigilance and solidarity. For more info or interview requests please contact Executive Director, Dr. Gholz ( or phone 313-757-5082.



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