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DJ Dana Powell grew up during the 1960s in Gary, Indiana, where he participated in school music ensembles in addition to getting involved in some theatrical dancing through programs like the Gary John Will Anderson Boys Club. Powell was instantly drawn to the thick orchestral arrangements of tunes like Barry White’s “Love Theme,” which his school band performed during a spring concert. In his first year of college, he recalls going to the Crystal Tower Disco and hearing Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europa Express.” These two strains of what came to be called disco, synth-driven electronic music and Gamble & Huff/Sigma Studios’ orchestral funk, inspired Powell to become an avid record collector and a prolific DJ. During his decade-spanning career he performed at such lauded gay venues as Chicago’s Stop and Drink, but it was his longterm residency at the Generator that made him a local favorite, and a regional tastemaker (he was even lucky enough to get on the exclusive Strictly Rhythm mailing list). Powell DJ’d the Generator’s legendary disco Wednesdays (in rotation with founder Tyrone Mixx), as well as current house hits through the ‘90s until the Generator closed. Today he laments that the city’s DJs don’t support each other like they once did in Chicago, recalling fondly the days when he could call up on his fellow spinners to enjoy their hospitality on a night off.
Columbia College Chicago
House Music, Chicago, Illinois, Gary, Indiana, disc jockey, Generator, Stop and Drink, Tyrone Mixx
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African American Studies | Gender and Sexuality | History | Latina/o Studies | Music | Regional Sociology
Salkind, Micah, "Interview with Dana Powell" (2014). Chicago House Music Oral History Project. 10.