Three month paradise
Any of you fine funky Neon Babylonians remember a sinful little hot spot back in '83 called the Voodoo Lounge?
Ah yes, the Voodoo. These days what used to be the old Voodoo is a Christian establishment called Faith Alive at 120 Hubbard Way just east of the Peppermill. But back in '83, Faith Alive was a hedonistic performing arts place called The Space Theater, and its director was a wonderful cool cat named Ed Gilweit. The back half of the building was this huge empty barn of a warehouse, and Ed wanted to do something positive with it. I suggested it would make a great place to have dance parties, sell drinks and ogle lithe young females. Ed, mischievous rascal to the core, didn't need much of an arm twist.
My partner in DJ crime was the late laughaholic Harry Reynolds, our GM was a gent who still has a decent reputation in this town so I'll just call him Zeppo, and our sound man was a guy named Mike Smith who had a monster system that he loved showing off. Bingo. In March we opened. In May we closed. It wasn't due to lack of interest.
After the third weekend the crowds got respectable. The buzz was good about our new place—spacious room, cheap drinks, crazy loud music, and a parking lot where … well, remember this was '83. There were a lot of snowstorms in that parking lot. Quite frosty out there with Bolivian nostril spackle being liberally applied to proboscoid membranes of those seeking enhanced dance thrills and such.
Harry and I wanted to bombard folks with all this swingin' new wave energized Talking Heads, Blondie, Elvis Costello stuff. Very quickly we outhipped every other club in town. No brag, just fact. The modern scene was there for the taking. We took it. Reno's punks would show up—all 9 of 'em—wanting the Dead Kennedys and The Clash. We gave it to 'em. The hot babes would show up and they wanted Thriller. Always the Michael. Harry and I weren't proud. If it got the girls on the dance floor we'd fire up the goddamn “Billie Jean.” WTF.
By the end of April we were one smokin' club rollin' til 5 a.m. every Friday and Saturday night. Draggin' our bones outta there at dawn, headed to Landrum's to do battle with Daisy and her toxic omelettes. But Zeppo saw the writing on the wall, that sooner rather than later we were going to attract some attention. Some RPD kind of attention. He suggested that we calmly and quietly just kinda shut the place down. For a while, anyway. We knew he was right. And so just as the VL was beginning to make it, we faded to black in a very proactive way. “A while” became … forever. But for those three months, man, we did indeed conjure up a bit of voodoo. In a completely unrelated coincidence, the Rolling Stones released an album in '94 called … Voodoo Lounge! Always nice to get Keithoid validation.