The Closing of Subterranean A
It was a Monday night about a year ago, and my friend Danny was in town from Brooklyn for a night. Danny is a film maker who enjoys a blend of top 40, danceable indie rock and underground hyper-sexaulized electronic music. He suggested we head to Subterranean A to see Pictureplane, who he had seen in cave in Brooklyn a few nights prior.
For those, who know my musical taste, seeing Pictureplane falls outside of expected behavior. I was feeling antsy after my Monday and Thursday night ritual of going to Fort Reno (which I am excited is starting back up tonight) and I just wanted to dance and enjoy the company of an old friend I rarely get to see.
I walked into the basement packed of young pretty people, on one of the hottest nights of the year, it struck me that event thought it was scorching outside it was cool inside. The air smelled of sweat, marijuana, and stale cigarettes. No alcohol was sold but plenty was brought and given out. The event was billed as costing $10 and no one ever asked me for any money. I tried to find a place to give my money to, but I failed in that mission.
Subterranean A, achieved something thousands of clubs around world have attempted, and charged tons more to attend. A dance space, packed with only people who knew the secret handshake. No one was overweight or unattractive. Everyone who was there had a certain charm, that they could still dance to cool electronic music until late night on a Monday night and get work early Tuesday Morning. I even spotted a few people that could only be considered celebrities in small DC political circles.
Going to basement shows, is one of my favorite activities. I have been to Subterranean A a few times in the past once for a party, once to see an underground jazz performance, once to see comedy night, once to see a punk show and another time to see a friend’s band play. The first thing you notice when you walk into the space is the large DC flag painted on the white wall. The basement show is critical part of the DC experience and Subterranean A gives a home to what could not be found at clubs in DC.
More than that, I have seen some strange stuff happen at Subterranean A. One band played an entire set over a recording of their drummer playing who passed away recently. A woman who fronted a band let the rest of the members of her band play an entire song while she went out and smoked a cigarette. While many of the bands who played Subterranean A later went to sell out larger venues in DC. It was nice that we had a place to see them and in place where both the performer and the audience can act as they pleased.
I found out this week, that Subterranean A will be hosting their last show on Saturday. I hope new DIY venues that host electronic and indie rock acts open up soon.