Charles Hicks A Lifetime Shaping Detroit's Dance Scene


This is the story of a humble man who started as an outsider in the entertainment business on Detroit's East Side and became a pivotal figure in the city's vibrant music scene. His journey spans nearly five decades, marked by resilience, innovation, and a deep love for music.

In the 1970s, this DJ began his career by hosting mobile parties, quickly gaining recognition with his first major collaboration with Tino Fernandez and another popular promoter whose life was tragically cut short. These early gigs, especially the Motown Varsity Squad parties at the Central Center, were the foundation of his career.


A significant turning point came when the renowned promoter Zana noticed him. Ken Collier had just stopped DJing her weekly hot party at the Downstairs Pub, and she needed a new talent to fill his shoes. This East Side DJ stepped in, and soon, his performances became a magnet for upcoming DJs, including a young Jeff Mills, who would gather to watch him work.

Another milestone was his partnership with popular DJ Dale Willis, who joined his mobile DJ company. Together, they were handling three parties a night at their peak. His career further skyrocketed when he secured a spot at a new million-dollar club on the East Side during the early 80s. Despite a fierce blizzard, he made it to his audition on time, outshining many popular DJs with his eclectic mix of disco, R&B, and other genres, perfectly synchronized with the club's extraordinary light system.


By the early 80s, this DJ was performing five nights a week at the three most popular clubs in Detroit and had become a Billboard reporter. He played a crucial role in making house music popular among straight audiences through his legendary Thursday night parties, which spanned over ten years across three different venues. His influence meant that people no longer had to go to gay clubs to enjoy great house music.

He also innovated by bringing together a team of promoters to start a weekly party on Tuesdays at a predominantly white club, drawing thousands of attendees. He was among the first to use radio to promote dance parties, revolutionizing the way these events were advertised.

From the 80s to the present, this East Side DJ has remained a cornerstone of Detroit's entertainment scene. He has seamlessly transitioned through various music eras, from R&B to house and progressive music, to Miami bass and hip-hop, and now specializes in dance music for the ballroom stepping community.

Even after suffering a stroke and now facing the need for a hip replacement, he continues to DJ three nights a week and organize parties. His indomitable spirit and enduring influence have shaped the entertainment environment in Metro Detroit, making him a true legend of the city's music scene.


This DJ's story is one of perseverance and passion, and it deserves to be shared widely. His contributions have left an indelible mark on Detroit's nightlife, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of DJs and music lovers. The beat goes on, and so does his remarkable journey, nearing fifty years of making people dance. This is a story worth telling, celebrating a life dedicated to music and community.