Back in the 60s there developed a club scene in England that you could
call the Temporary Club scene. For a single night, space would be rented
out at some warehouse or in some cases a theater and musical groups
would play. You would find people like Donovan or the young David Bowie
on the bill. The concerts generally weren't advertised, or if they were
it was only by way of flyers that people would pass around or stick up
on kiosks. In certain cases the location of the venue wasn't even given
— it was part of the scene that you had to find the concert by way of
Here in the U.S., the Temporary Club thing developed in the late 70s and
continued on into the early 80s. Similar to the earlier London scene, the
Temporary Clubs here mainly featured new artists, bands that couldn't get
gigs in the mainstream. This was particularly true on the early Punk and
New Wave scene.
In Dallas in the early 80s I met a guy named Rocky. Rocky was a silver
spoon — his parents were loaded. But he was what you might call an
"okay" silver spoon. He didn't live fancy. He lived in a cheap apartment.
He drove a Mercedes-Benz — but a very old one that was almost slumming it
for a person of his economic background. Most of his money he put into his
main passion in life, music.
In about 1983 Rocky rented a warehouse in near East Dallas and started
having bands in. It was a very large warehouse, but the ceilings weren't
as high as some warehouses — only about 20 feet high. The floor was of
course concrete. There was a restroom that was shared by both the men
and the women. The men would piss in the sink and the women would use
the toilet. In the back of the warehouse there there was an archway and
in back of that a narrow area that sort of ran the length of the rear of
the warehouse. There was also a small office that Rocky used for after
hours get-togethers with friends.
Rocky charged admission, which was usually about $3 to $6, very cheap
compared to most concerts. And if you didn't have the money, you didn't
have to worry about it much, Rocky would usually let you in. He didn't
get back even close to what he put out on the bands in admission anyway,
so he really didn't give a shit. The concert hall didn't have a name. And
as to whether there were going to be bands there on any one night, that
you had to find out from connections or by calling Rocky.
Normally there would be 2 or 3 bands in a night. It was all Punk. Mostly
Punk bands from California. I saw the Circle Jerks there, and Really
Red. The other names I either didn't know or have since forgotten. The
concrete floor and the low ceiling made for some strange acoustics. The
space seemed to work as a second amplifier, making everything much
more loud and with more noise — which of course was perfect for Punk.
It was BYOB. I would usually take a six-pack, of which I would get maybe
two beers after giving some to people who asked me for one. I didn't
care much. I was usually pretty well lit even before I walked into the
place. And of course there were drugs. The area at the rear of the
warehouse through the arch was were most of this type of business was
transacted. It was also a place where some people engaged in quickie
All of this — the crazy unisex restrooms, the drugs, the sex, might
tend to make the place sound very sleazy. And maybe it was, I don't
know. It didn't seem sleazy to me at the time. And to be honest, it
still doesn't. For the most part it was a concert hall, and the emphasis
for us was on the music, not the meaningless peripherals.
I ran into another Temporary Club a few years later while living in
Phoenix. The unnamed club in Dallas was up-scale and spacious compared
to this one. This nameless club was basically a small, gutted out business
building. The ceiling was low, and the slightly elevated stage looked
like it would collapse at any moment. I lost one of my contact lenses
right next to that stage one night, and by some miracle — virtually
in the dark and on a dirty floor — I found it again. Which was even
more of a miracle given the half-pint of Cuervo Gold in my pocket that
was two-thirds empty at that point.
Unlike Rocky's club, the little Phoenix venue was mostly New Wave.
Most of them weren't very good. But the energy was high, and there
were very few bona-fide clubs in Phoenix who featured the type of
music they played there.
The little club also had what had to be the world's worst restroom.
Or maybe I should say the worst toilet, because that's all there was,
there was no sink, just a toilet. I was incredulous the first time I
saw it. So much so that I went home and got my Polaroid camera (I only
lived about four blocks from the club) and went in and took a picture
of it. Some people promptly came down on my ass. They thought I was
from the Board of Health. I told them I wasn't, that I just thought it
was an interesting subject for a photograph. After weighing it over,
they decided I must be on the level and let it go.
One night I was smoking just outside the club. There was a girl there,
also smoking, the classic New Wave babe look — short skirt, heels,
pixie hair. I went over to her. "You're a total fox" I said. She looked
me over. Back then I still had my hair short on the sides and feathered
in back, the Duran Duran look, though I had cut my front long-lock off
when I got to Phoenix. I had my white jacket on with the sleeves pushed
up, a black shirt with a skinny crimson tie. She decided that I fit the
bill. "You're scary" she said back to me, looking me in the eye and
taking a long slow draw of her cigarette. "Really?" I said. "Because you
know, some other girl told me that I was silly. So, am I silly in a scary
type of way? Or scary in a silly type of way?" She thought about that for
about five seconds. And then her brain shut down completely, and she