Home / Essays / 2014 / June / Secret Garden article "Riot on the Dance Floor," Inked

Secret Garden article "Riot on the Dance Floor," Inked


"Even if you never saw Operation Ivy play at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, you’re still aware of the stories. Everyone has heard of LA’s Roxy Theatre, if only from the live Social D and Bob Marley albums recorded there. Mabuhay Gardens, the 9:30 Club, the Brixton Academy, Fireside Bowl, the Whiskey … they’ve all become part of the greater culture of rock. And thanks to some brilliant (borderline obnoxious) merchandising, the whole world knows what CBGB’s was. But unless you’re from Central New Jersey—or were a touring musician in the 80s—you never heard of Trenton’s City Gardens."

It's fairly amazing how one venue influenced the lives of so many people I know today.

I had only been to a few shows at City Gardens, and it wasn't until after it closed its doors when I was 19 that I realized how influential it was.

This summer, "Riot on the Dance Floor," Steve Tozzi's documentary is doing the festival circuit. It's the story of City Gardens and promoter Randy Now, bolstered by the photos of Ken Salerno. I was fortunate enough to be on location for a few of Tozzi's interviews several years ago and put together a feature for Inked Magazine on the film. I also had a story on the Lighthouse Film Fest premier in The Sandpaper.

"Riot" makes it's New Jersey premier at the Lighthouse Film Festival on June 7 (Surflight Theatre, 3:30 p.m.) and we are hosting the Salerno Art Show directly afterwards at the new Ann Coen Gallery  1418 Long Beach Boulevard, Surf City.

Social Distortion, Agent Orange, Token Entry, Bad Brains, Lifetime, Endpoint, Rancid, De La Soul, Inside Out, Underdog, Fishbone, Bad Religion, The Bouncing Souls, Fugazi, Shelter, Vision, 3rd Bass, The Descendants, A Tribe Called Quest, 7 Seconds, Into Another, Mouthpiece, and so many other of our favorite bands played there. It was where Green Day, the Offspring, and Nirvana played right before blowing up to massive commercial success.

We are also extremely excited to host Salerno's first art show, "Caught in the Act." Not only did he capture countless shows and skate images for "Thrasher" at the time, but his work spans nearly five decades from shooting the burgeoning surf scene in New Jersey to Caribbean travel and the slow rebuild of Seaside Heights since Sandy. We both have a lot of common threads with Salerno. This is going to be a great weekend.

Mike Ness, by Salerno