The Dead Clubs Club

Tom Scanion, a reporter at the Seattle Times wrote an article today with the ever-growing list of closed night clubs of Seattle’s past called the Dead Clubs Club. The list as follows:

  • Colourbox
  • Old Timer’s Cafe
  • Larry’s
  • O.K.Hotel
  • Fenix/Fenix Underground
  • Velvet Elvis
  • Gorilla Gardens
  • Premier
  • Showbox (which hasn’t closed, but which was just sold to A.E.G. Live)
  • 700 Club
  • Weathered Wall
  • I Spy
  • Gibson’s
  • Vogue
  • WREX
  • Sit & Spin
  • Crocodile Cafe

What do you remember most about the venues? What has happened to the local music scene in Seattle since these places closed? What venues are left? The Metroblogging authors shared their thoughts about the article and compared it to other cities across the nation.

Colin: “The club business is fragile. Of all the clubs I went to in Boston when I was in college in the early 90s, there’s only one left: the Axis. I just saw this morning that it was getting sold to House of Blues. Oddly, most of the clubs I went to in Northampton (west side of Massachusetts, closer to my college) are still there.

Ryan: “The clubs I went to in San Francisco are all mostly gone. And New York is constantly changing that way.

Dylan: “I don’t think there’s anything left in Boulder, except the Fox? And it was still showing movies my freshman year of college before it became a music club. I know Ground Zero, Tulagi, and Penny Lane (site of Nirvana’s only Boulder show) are gone. The Boulder Theater is still there, too, but it was also a converted theater. The one nice thing was that it was the inverse of Neumos — drinking in the balcony only, all-ages below. RKCNDY has been gone for 10 years now. Wow. I remember when it closed. There was about as much mourning as when the Croc closed. Oh, and as for Tulsa, everything’s gone, except Cain’s Ballroom. There will always be Cain’s Ballroom. Wilco is playing a show there in February as part of their tour of their favorite American venues (along with the Ryman in Nashville, the 9:30 in DC, and five nights at the Riviera in Chicago).

Shawn: “Oh man, I remember the day Ground Zero closed. I used to go there every Saturday night. It was one of the only places in the Denver/Boulder area that played industrial and not just house. I think I even heard “Killing In The Name” there for the first time ever.

Colin: “Yeah, losing RKCNDY was like CBGB’s closing in New York. A lot of people miss that place. I spent a lot of time in the Fenix Underground when I first moved out here. And the Catwalk. :) Somehow that got omitted from Tom’s list….

Zee: “I’ve been to just about every club on that list. I don’t miss any of their physical spaces, all of which were vile, vile, vile (one night at the Croc I overheard a conversation in which a long-time local musican was telling someone, “Yeah, I remember we used to play at that place…what was the name? Where someone always shit in the sinks?” I piped up with, “Gorilla Gardens?” “Yeah, exactly!” he said. It was totally that kind of place.) but I do miss the vibe of some of them. What I really wish someone would do (and maybe some day I’ll do it myself) is write about the hot all-ages scene of the 80s to early 90s that took place at places like the Renton Musicians Hall (your closet is probably bigger than the RMH), the Bellevue Roll-away, the Kent Skate King, the Ballard VFW and the like. Those were seriously fun days.

Kristen: “All the clubs in Wichita are… oh wait, there are no clubs in Wichita. And if there were I’m too young to go to them anyways.

Josh: “It’s weird that he ends it with something about Moe’s being closed on Capitol Hill given that it basically re-opened a few years ago as Neumo’s.

I must admit, I didn’t go to most of the clubs while they were open. I caught a few shows at the Catwalk, one at the Crocodile Cafe, and stumbled into Sit & Spin when I first came to Seattle. I feel like I missed out on a huge part of the local music history.

8 Comments so far

  1. josh (unregistered) on January 31st, 2008 @ 9:41 pm

    I miss Sit & Spin, both on principle and because I saw some great shows there. I only went to I-Spy once or twice — the layout seemed really weird at the time. And of course, the Crocodile.

    I might even add Graceland to the list only because I have only been to one show since it turned into El Corazon.

  2. Zee (unregistered) on January 31st, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

    I had only just broken the habit of calling Graceland "the Graceland" (born from years of going to The Off-ramp" when they changed the name; somehow I’ve managed to keep myself from talking about "the El Corazon".

    The Sit’n’Spin (which later reopened in a reduced space in the same location as the Hideaway which is also now closed) is one of the few clubs whose physical presence I actually miss. Sure the layout was a little weird, but how many clubs in Seattle don’t have a layout that’s kind of weird? Very few of the clubs in the city were/are in spaces originally built to be clubs. It was one of the few places where I never had to worry about an anxiety attack brought on by my claustrophobia and whoever did their booking was really, really good at it. Also, I really liked being able to go up front and have a slice of pizza or play board games and drink tea while I was sitting out an act onstage that didn’t interest me without having to bother the people who wanted to watch the show.

    I’m kind of sad that they didn’t include the Breakroom on the list. Chop Suey is nice and all, but the Breakroom deserves its bit of immortalization, too.

    The Catwalk had some really good shows but i don’t think I ever spent a minute in there when I wasn’t secretly freaking out about the possibilities of getting trapped in there.

  3. Ryan Healy (unregistered) on February 1st, 2008 @ 9:17 am

    Most of the clubs listed above aren’t missed. I went to the Colourbox three times and each time a brawl of epic proportions broke out. Fun, let me tell you.

    I Spy. Meh.


    The Croc is really the only one on that list that hurts. And it’s possible that’s only because it’s still fresh.

  4. t.p.n. (unregistered) on February 1st, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

    The Off Ramp
    Uncle Rocky’s
    Lake Union Pub
    The Central (of old)
    Sqiud Row

  5. Ryan Healy (unregistered) on February 1st, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

    If you’re going to include The Off Ramp then you have to include Graceland, too.

  6. t.p.n. (unregistered) on February 1st, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

    Almost forgot–the old, divey Storeroom

  7. Foxy D. (unregistered) on February 1st, 2008 @ 11:07 pm

    Anyone remember The Attic (madison park), The Ditto (5th ave) or Astor Park (also 5th ave and where I saw the Replacements) or am I just too damn old?

  8. c. (unregistered) on February 4th, 2008 @ 5:49 am

    and don’t forget Scoundrel’s Lair, which used to be above what is now Romio’s on the south end of the University bridge.

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