MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) — Two years after the Disco King of the Mid-South passed away, the city of Memphis declared August 25 Robert “Hollywood” Raiford Day.
Raiford created the world renowned Raiford’s Hollywood Disco, a small but vibrant discotheque that existed at the corner of Vance and Mulberry streets in the South Main area of Downtown Memphis several years before moving to North 2nd Street and renamed Paula and Raiford’s Disco.
Friday, Paula –his daughter and owner of the disco– threw a street party outside the club. A dance floor was brought out onto the street, surrounded by food trucks, a DJ Booth, and bar to ensure revelers wouldn’t miss the party location.
In honor of her father, Paula commissioned a mural painted on the disco’s exterior wall in Floyd Alley with the words: love, love anchoring the colorful work.
Family, friends, and people who at one time or another partied at one or both of the famed dance clubs crossed the dance floor to embrace Paula and lift a glass in memory of Robert. T-shirts with Robert’s picture, dressed in one of his regular outrages suits, stacked on the table drew the attention of those who ventured inside the door of the disco, where he held court from the DJ booth every weekend.
Once inside, it was like an arrival to a mecca, a place with no judgement, where everybody regardless of background, race or gender are still welcomed and treated with respect. As much as Robert Raiford was known for his flamboyant cars, and flashy smile, he was also known for his generosity to anybody who needed assistance.
His daughter carries on the legacy of her father, who would be proud that she continues to run the disco just as he did. That’s what’s kept people coming back weekend after weekend, year after year. That spirit is what brought people to honor Robert Raiford on a day named for him on what would have been 77th birthday on a warm August day in Memphis.