by Matt Kalkhoff

When a nightclub achieves legendary status, it's never by accident. There's always a dedicated team of individuals behind the success working diligently to create the sublime environment that so many have come to idolize. The ultimate personification of this concept is Sound Factory, where a multitude of elaborate production elements converge flawlessly for some of the most spectacular events in New York City, like Ric Sena's famed Alegria parties. The club's brilliant lighting installation truly stands out as one of the main attractions, and the man responsible for its design and operation is Steve Revlon.

If you've ever been to an Alegria party or experienced one of Sound Factory's wildly popular Saturday night dance marathons with DJ Jonathan Peters, then you've already witnessed Revlon's innovative imagery. On Sunday, March 24, his luminous expertise will once again be showcased during Alegria Xtreme when the lighting master joins birthday boy DJ Abel for a post-Black Party dance extravaganza.

As a faithful devotee of the original Sound Factory, Revlon would literally spend hours watching lighting guru Tim Algier dramatically alter the room's atmosphere with sophisticated visual effects. Mesmerized and inspired by the club's revolutionary lighting design, Revlon set out to teach himself the revered art form.

He eventually landed a gig at Sound Factory working the lights for DJ Junior Vasquez just one year before the disco's untimely demise in 1994. A few years later, Revlon followed owner Richard Grant uptown to the new Sound Factory space on West 46th Street where he has been working as the lighting director ever since.

"For me to do what I like to do requires a certain commitment on behalf of the owners," says Revlon. "Most other places don't really take lighting that seriously. I'm fortunate that Richard really understands how important it is. If something breaks, the next week it gets fixed. That's pretty rare."

Revlon is truly blessed to work in an environment where his creative vision is not only appreciated, but wherein a plethora of impeccably maintained state-of-the-art equipment is readily available to him. Relishing in the artist freedom his current situation affords him, Revlon explains, "I picture myself as channeling the music really, more so than just doing the lights. I kind of just let the music do what it wants through me."

Many have tried to lure Revlon away from Sound Factory over the years, and his loyalty to Grant is often tested. But Revlon loves his job and apparently wouldn't give up the comfort and stability for anything. Heck, he even turned down an opportunity to tour with Christina Aguilera as her lighting designer. While nobody knows what the future will bring, one thing seems certain - Revlon will be illuminating many of our favorite dance floor moments for years to come.

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© 2002 Matt Kalkhoff
Featured in NEXT Magazine'sBlack Party issue, March 2002