CORRECTION as of March5, 2019: The Curtain Club's last night is June 30, 2019, according to a person affiliated with the venue.
Actually, it didn’t JUST happen. It’s been in the works for some time but now, when the buildings blocking the downtown skyline are magically visible now when it seems just yesterday they weren't, and there are smooth sidewalks with element lighting and rod iron posts erected in trendy ways, and outdoor areas that look like they belong in Japan or Scandinavia, donned with broccoli growing out of the ground, reality hits and this isn’t the Deep Ellum that it used to be.
Now, this didn’t just happen, I know this. The plans were drawn up a long time ago to modernize the neighborhood East of Downtown Dallas called Deep Ellum. At the beginning of 2000, developers rolled in and rolled out the architectural drawings in a DEA (Deep Ellum Association, the local chamber-like organization at the time, no longer) Board Meeting and we all scoffed at the big ideas bubbling from these two or three big-eyed, big pocketed men as if they were showing us some magic technology allowing us the ability to send pictures through the air with our mobile phones! “Hogwash!”, we exclaimed and went about plans for the Spring Art Festival.
Lo and behold, fast forward 19 years and here we are. The tunnel leading into Deep Ellum was removed to make way for the DART Rail, there is a candle making store, a baseball bat store owned by Jack White and Ian Kinsler, a hand rolled sushi restaurant, alcohol infused Popsicle store, a place that sells a $15 milkshake with a unicorn cake on top, and a plant store that specializes in wall planters that are designed for urban living, and let’s not forget the broccoli coming up from the ground.
I would adore a neighborhood like this honestly, if it were anywhere but Deep Ellum. Maybe a vacation spot or somewhere out of state. And I would love it even more if it didn't look like every other part of DFW or any where else, for that matter! Look, every area that has been "redone" in the last 20 years isn't unique to the area. There are little details that can't be replicated but let's be honest, Uptown, Downtown, Kessler Park, Greenville Avenue, Lakewood - these areas are pretty similar. Now, I'm not talking about the landscape of these areas, obviously. I'm talking about the structures and the molds these areas pop out from and the merchants that fill up the spaces. (To be fair though, I haven't gone into the new stores here in Deep Ellum, nor have I gone to every store in these other areas, just an aside.) But despite me revealing that, the neighborhood that used to be full of grit and individuality, wound up in the measures of music is almost gone.
Like the artifacts from past eras that are still evident in the neighborhood; the signs painted on brick that's been here even after the business is long gone, to the telephone poles that are waning with a gazillion conversations that have traveled down the lines, to the other marks left on a well-lived and well-played in are, the things that we all love about Deep Ellum are literally disappearing.
Since Deep Ellum happens to be the Meca of Music IMHO, not just for Dallas but possibly the whole Great State Of TEXAS, if not the Southwest and has been a hub for bands in all genres from punk to grind core to EMO since the mid-80’s, I have to wonder what is going to happen to the very thing that helped establish this neighborhood? Clubs and bars that have had thousands of bands and fans over the last 30+ years on the streets of Elm Street, Main, Commerce, and Canton are becoming memories to the plots they once stood. The Rock, Boozers, 2826, Galaxy, Indigo, On The Rocks, to name a few, are just distant blips now and only exist in our minds where the memories are housed.
And add another to the list, The Curtain Club will be closing its doors in May of this year after a 21 year, and I might add, a successful AF run. While I was there tonight covering a show, I soaked in the times I've spent there, the bands I've seen, the mile stones I've tossed and collected there, and felt a true loss that this place wouldn't be here after this summer. Even now, it's mighty hard to think that there won't be the bands painted on the wall for the month or the stickered doors won't be open so you can stand and find all of the bands you've known over the last 21 years. Or realizing the band plaques that decked the hall with rock stars a plenty, will have to find another home. But let's hope that these pieces of history go to someone and not just pitched out for the homeless to use as mud mats. I hope that finding the bands on the plaques on the wall that you love will have to find another place to hang and hope that whoever looks at the painted pictures will be ones that knew them personally, and hopefully people will look at them with bright eyes instead of empty ones.
And I have to wonder, once this happens how long will it be before the people that come down here won't have a clue that what they're seeing, hidden within the cracks in the sidewalks, and shoved in the walls. But for those of us that have been here, we will always remember. We'll always know where to look to find that band's last show, or the stages that graced ten thousand feet that played the best music; the music that stirred our souls and created the times we all know eventually have to be put in the scrapbook and put away.
Check back as I start adding more pictures of the neighborhood soon and if you have pics to share feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Til Next Time - Cherri