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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Door in the Floor

I recently paid a visit to the new location of a Deep Ellum staple, the Door. Taking over the building where the Gypsy Tea Room once was, things weren't that much different, which was fine by me. I will say though: a few weeks before going to this show, I saw the rubble of the old Door location and kind of felt like Ben Kenobi when Alderaan was zapped in Star Wars. Nobody was killed in this case, but it felt like a lot of memories had been reduced down to almost nothing. And that is, for a lack of a better term, draining.

The old Door was the place where I saw the Get Up Kids attract a crowd that was double the venue's capacity. When I interviewed various members of the band for POST, they still remembered that show (especially the heat in the room). This was the venue where I saw Braid on their reunion tour and interviewed half of the band for my book. These are just some of my memories of the place as I saw plenty of great shows between 1999 and 2007.

Now, as mentioned in many local publications for the last couple of years, Deep Ellum is slowly transitioning into something else. What that is exactly, I'm not sure, other than a lot more lofts and office spaces are being built. With the home-buying market in a crisis, I'm wondering how much this is an effect on all these new spots people apparently want to buy. All I know is, my trips to Deep Ellum have been less and less for the past few years.

The way I see it, it is a shame to see one big hotspot be split up into various parts of town, but I've seen worse. In the town where I grew up (Houston), there's never been a centralized location of great bars and clubs for live music. Pretty much the places to go were Fitzgerald's and Numbers. So I was lucky to see the tail-end of Deep Ellum's heyday when I moved up to the D/FW area in 1998.

As far as I know, there's never been something like Seattle's Teen Dance Ordinance, where all-ages shows were, for the most part, banned city-wide. So Dallas has never been that bad. But the redeeming (and seemingly vanishing) value of Deep Ellum is its history. People have legit fears seeing historical places be surrounded by vacant yuppiedom. I have them too. And it gets scary sometimes, but at least there are still places to play in town and national touring bands still stop here. Maybe Dallas was just spoiled for a long time and it's been a slow and painful process of phasing out.

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