What I thought was going to be a simple 30 minute interview turned into a 5 hour lunch, story telling, reminiscing and just a fantastic time with one of our very own living legends from the 80′s music industry. This is Ciro’s story.
He started as a DJ at age 13 when he began hanging out at Salon Azul where Jimmy E was the DJ. After that he played at teen discos in Hialeah such as DC’s Teen Disco. At age 14, he had his own place, called the Affair Teen Disco, on top of the Miracle Theatre where they would throw parties for his friends from school. His partners in this were Angel Rodriguez (the hair dresser) and Carlos Estrada whom eventually opened his own record store called Carjul Records. This is where the serious DJ’s would buy their records.
During those years Carlos and Ciro would frequent various Record stores like Record Gallery and ERE Record, (Ely & Ernie’s place on 57th & 7 Street) prior To Carlos launching his own Record Store inside of The Hair Studio. Carlos was the furniture department manager at JC Penny at the time in the ERE Record’s mall.
During those years he was DJing at the original Centro Español owned by Abdon Grau. Ciro got to see several performances from some of the world’s greatest latin acts like, Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo, Nelson Ned, & Johnny Ventura just to name a few. He will never forget the Centro Español owner Abdon telling him, “Chamo, no te preoccupes. Un dia vamos a tener la discoteqa como tu quieres.” These famous words by Abdon eventually lead to a Club called “The Waterfront” owned by Casanova’s & Abdon Grau.
His initial DJ equipment were Gerrard belt driven turntables with a Radio Shack mixer and some Hank Speakers. His first experience at a major Night Club was walking into Rumbottoms (later on became the Limelight) with Carlos and Angel. WOW! That’s all Ciro could say, is Wow!
One of the first disco song’s that grabbed Ciro’s attention, becoming an early favorite, was “I Cant Fight Your Love” by the Modulations. He was influenced also by others such as Barabbas, Gil Scott Heron, The Philly Sound, Harold Melvin and Teddy Pendergrass, and the early 1975-76 Trammps.
His top 5 favorite songs from the 80′s era were “Tittle Tattle”by Baricentro; “Yes Sir, I Can” by Boogie Baccara; “Let Me Go by Heaven 17; “Emotional Disguise” by Peter Godwin, Rockers Revenge and the Blow Monkeys. He also loved Peter Brown’s “Love Is Just a Game” (still to this day an anthem) and “Overnight Sensation”.
Casanova’s has a special place in Ciro’s heart because of what it did for his career. He got to see all the greatest Disco & 80′s acts ever! From Grace Jones, Madonna, Sylvester w/ Two Tons of Fun. My favorite show ever was Rocker’s Revenge!
Ciro was the resident DJ at Casanova’s, Waterfront, DCs Teen Disco, Sebastian’s, Honey for the Bears (later named San Francisco), just to name a few. One of his greatest musical accomplishment’s at Casanova’s was the introduction of gay-influenced music. After Casanova’s closed in 1990, Ciro was hired to work at Club Nu on Thursdays, and Fridays & Saturdays he was at 1235, and wrapped up the week on Sunday at Warsaw.
During those DJ years at South Florida Night Club’s he was fortunate enough to be approached by some of the greatest producers of our era. Ciro was invited to work with Ish Ledesma (member of the band Foxy), and they came up with some great song’s e.g. Fascinated by Company B, Be Mine Tonight by Promise Circle, Something Tells Me by Tiger Moon just to name a few. I also got the opportunity to work with some other great producer’s, Lewis Martinee of Expose fame, and Ray Martinez of Amant and Passion fame.
Many great DJ’s influenced his career included Jimmy E. Disco (Salon Azul, Disco 79), Bobby Lombardi (Limelight), Jorge Cadenas (resident DJ at Delmonico’s Salvation’s), Bobby Vittareti (The Poop Deck), and Carlos Nodal (Guiro McCoy’s, Honey’s, and Casanova’s) Each had their own style and he modeled whatever he could from all those guys. An example; Carlos Nodal taught him how to make a crowd scream with his famous “chop mixes”. Bobby Lombardi’s smooth mixes coming out of the dark tinted DJ booth. Jimmie E’s hitting them with hit’s all night long, Jorge Cadenas complete control of his crowd, and the creative mixing techniques of Bobby Vitaretti. Ciro tried incorporating a little something from all these guy’s along with my musical taste and personality. He has been fortunate enough to receive multiple DJ awards including New Seminar Music South Florida DJ of the year, Winter Music Conference DJ of the year, and later on was named National Freestyle DJ of the year along side Mickey Garcia of Mic Mac Record’s fame!
As for experience in radio, Ciro started at Super Q in 1980, while he was doing “La Discoteca el el aire’s” live broadcasts from Casanovas. Soon after Power 96 became the new dance station spearheaded by the legendary Bill Tanner. Phil Jones was their original mixer and Ciro was brought in as the second DJ, soon after DJ Laz was brought in.
Currently, Ciro Llerena continues to expand his love of 70’s and 80’s music. Since 2008, he had created The Club at Renaissance, that is simply known as South Florida’s Premiere Dance Palace for the classic 70′s & 80′s music. Every Saturday night hundreds of party patron’s come religiously to reminisce in a safe environment that takes us back to the days of our youth.
Interview by Wilson Alvarez