the sound: Nina Simone – Feeling Good, Billlie Holliday – Lover Man, Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan – Stormy Monday, Janis Joplin – Summertime, Shirley Bassey – If You Go Away, Leonard Cohen – Isle of Wright, Eric Clapton – Lonely Stranger
We pass the bouncers and the gate and I am surprised by the fact that even though they’ve taken the time to confirm the house rules with us…they’ve not done anything about any of the near visible “tools of destruction” that these people are carrying. I’m more than certain all of them have boot knives, and possibly neck sheaths, but I’m also positive that more than one of them is packing a handgun.
So why bother with the rules?
We come up against an iron door that reminds me faintly of a bank vault and the man sitting on the stool beside the door is avidly chewing the end off of a large smoking cigar. He’s got shoulder length hair, a finely cropped mutton chop and beard and is wearing a red plaid shirt and jeans. It’s not till he hops down off of the bar stool that I realize he’s a dwarf.
“want in do ya?” he cajoles…he kinda cackles and pokes at a couple of the people standing before him with a cane. Not the kind of cane for walking, the kind that people use for show and maybe for fighting.
“enough with the games Barry” Robert announces from behind us and Barry apologizes with “oh…..uhhhhhhh…..didn’t see you there Robert” as he hustles and grunts to swing the door open wide, but no one tries to assist him.
As Barry pushes the door open the noise rolls over us like a physical entity. Rock n Roll and lots of it, people and lots of them.
We enter through the door single file and head up a flight of well worn wooden stairs clearly designed to create a bottle neck upon arrival.
When we reach the next level I am astounded by size and capacity of the room. There are bars offering alcohol liberally dotted around the inside of this warehouse. There are areas that look like a barroom set up with chairs and tables containing ashtrays and a cheap candle center piece. There are 3 distinct living room type areas were there are people sitting and laying on couches, there are people sitting on motorcycles, and there are people sitting on the floor and there’s literally 2 dozen pool tables.
As my gaze slowly moves to the end of the room there’s a full sized theatre stage with a rock and roll band in full swing. I glance up to see a balcony of sorts, there’s more pinball games than I have ever seen at one time in one place and there’s a bunch of those new fangled PackMan table games And there’s people, likely close to 200 give er take. Above that on the next tier there are doors…hundreds of them, like the 2nd floor walk way of Motel 6 and it occurs to me that there’s more than booze and games available here.
Robert sidles up to me, “Welcome to the Dump” he quietly announces and then takes my hand to lead me through the room, his gaggle of followers trailing along behind us.
We arrive at possibly the largest booth I have ever seen in my life and as the big red head called Snot hammers his hand on the table the dozen or so people sitting in it hasten abandon it. Rosie clears the glasses, jugs and overfull ashtrays from the table as Robert gestures for me to slide in towards the center.
In no time at all I find myself sitting between Robert and a man I vaguely remember being named the Executioner. The booth is a large wide oval shape with the back being just high enough for all these tall guys to lean back and prop their arms on. Me? I can just barely peer over the back while seated and I realize that this booth is located about mid room in one of the bar areas facing the stage.
I look about to consider this is likely one of the best seats in the house as far as the bands are concerned. But what happened to the age old biker’s rule of sitting with your back to a wall? I feel strangely unprotected in spite of sitting at a table with more than a dozen people ranging from 6 ft to 6 ft 6.