Longtime DJ, record store owner and general social facilitator Ronnie Kwon passed away unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm on the night of April 11 in New York City. He was 38 years old. A New York native, Kwon had recently moved back to the city after many years in the Pioneer Valley, and news of his death shocked and saddened the Northampton club community that he had helped inspire, nurture and perpetuate over more than 15 years.
By most accounts, Kwon exuded equal passion for music, business and parties and ever dressed the part of an after-midnight impressario, a colorful character who also had a serious side when it came to music. He took over ownership of the historic Thornes Marketplace basement shop Dynamite Records in the late 1990s and oversaw its brief move to Northampton’s Main Street before its closing in 2009.
“Ronnie Kwon had an insatiable hunger for forming long-lasting friendships with everyone he encountered, and accepted people for who they were without passing any judgment,” says friend Electra Starr Ragoza. “He had a vast appetite for life, love, music, creativity, and community, which was appreciated and shared by everyone around him.”
Kwon was also one of the best dancers in town, notes local stylist Rosa Guerra, longtime owner of Northampton salon Glamourama, who was close with Kwon for some 16 years and shared much of his appreciation for art, music and clothing.
“Ronnie was always straightforward, no-bullshit, and lived his life true to himself and his vision,” she says. “He was a loyal, loving, generous friend and I miss him.”
Kwon’s death also comes on the heels of another loss to the local hip-hop scene—bboy, drummer and graffiti photographer Daniel “DAN-ski” Mackey passed away, also at age 38, in February. Mackey was locally renowned for setting a Guinness world record for the longest (15 feet 9 inches) Berani Flip (an aerial dance move) two years earlier.
Ronnie’s life will be celebrated at a June event featuring DJ Breaks, DJ Construct, DJ Neb, DJ Wreckineyez and others. Proceeds will be donated to the Kwon family.
Remembering Ronnie Kwon:
June 7, 8 p.m., Diva’s Nightclub, 492 Pleasant St., Northampton, (413) 586-8161, www.divasofnoho.com.