21-Mar-2020 (Sat)
Wherein Slim's is closing.

Well, Golden Voice has taken Slim's out back and shot it in the head. The Chronicle reports:

Slim's staff was informed on Wednesday that the 11th Street nightclub will close permanently after more than 30 years. The decision had been made late last year, long before the coronavirus pandemic forced its immediate shutdown, Scaggs told The Chronicle [...]

Scaggs, Caufield and Hellman operated the clubs and free festival for their love of music. They laughed about competitors who were in the business for the money. Slim's owners failed to take a dime of profit out of the clubs all these years. [...]

Caufield, an original investor in Silicon Valley startups from America Online to Google, loved owning the club. He would get behind the bar and pour free drinks. [...] "What were billionaires like Warren and Frank doing caring about some blues club? It was a gift they gave themselves."

That's a pretty gross framing there, "a gift they gave themselves." He's saying that it wasn't about building a place for artists to thrive, creating community, or about giving back to their community. No, it has to be about what they got out of it personally.

Let's be very clear about this: Slim's never made a dime. Its 30 year cultural legacy -- and an incredible legacy it was -- only got to happen because of the whims of billionaires. If you look at what they did through the myopic lens of calling it a "business" -- that is, a financial instrument where you put money in one end, turn the crank, and more money comes out the other end -- then you'd consider it a spectacular failure.

But that's not what we, who run nightclubs, do. We facilitate the creation of our culture: You push money in one side, turn the crank, and what comes out the other side is art and community and music and stories.

But not money. Never money.

So if Caufield is to be believed, it means that all this time, Slim's was two or three rich dudes throwing a party for themselves... "And, whatever, I guess all of you plebes can attend, until we get bored with it."

So here we are, and the Money Men who had been supporting Slim's for so many decades finally decided to stop doing so. Two years ago, they sold it off to multinational superpredator Golden Voice. And, surprise surpise, the new owners Gordon Gecko'ed that shit, because, if at any moment a thing is worth more money by cutting it up and selling it off for parts, that's what they'll do. Then they move on, and consume and destroy the next thing, and so on, and so on.

In the DNA Lounge version of this story, I've been funding this place for decades off my 90s Startup money, and that money is nearly gone, because I was never rich like those guys are.

DNA Lounge isn't some whim of a group of dilettante plutocrats. It's not some side-hobby I toy around with when I'm not private-jetting off to my fifth mansion or luxurious doomsday bunker or whatever. This is all I do. I didn't expect this to be my life's work, but it is, because I think it's important.

I hope you think it's important too, and want DNA Lounge, your community, and all our communities here, to continue to exist after this pandemic lockdown. Please share our donation links. Please donate or contribute to our Patreon. Without our communities becoming much more heavily involved, this could be the end of the DNA Lounge project.

The "two or three rich dudes" model is not sustainable, because two or three people, billionaires or not, are not a community.

And let me close by casting a particularly strong side-eye to those of you working in the tech industry. You're making a quarter million a year and thinking "Wellllll.... I do like that place. Maybe I'll kick in $10 a month..."

If you add a couple-or-three zeroes onto that, then your community, all our other communities, and DNA Lounge itself, might just make it through this pandemic.

10 Responses:

  1. Eric says:

    As much as I'll miss Slim's, I feel like the worst thing Golden Voice unleashed on this city was the Regency Ballroom. Hey kids, come over and hear your favorite bands attempt to perform on a sound system we bought twenty years ago at Goodwill!

  2. Dawn Holliday says:

    Slims owners didn't put a dime in after 1988. The music hall was purchased with additional investors and that keep the clubs going for a good long time. The Slims staff worked VERY hard to keep the club going. It was their love of music and community that kept it viable. Every year I ran the risk of closing. I never went back to ownership for any financial support. Boz, Frank and Warren never had a word about what the content of music or activity that the club participated in. They left us alone. We were truly Independent. After I left they had NO PLAN.
    Thank you Jamie for caring so darn much. But, the way I looked at it was I got 'seed' money from some might fine men who also loved music. dawn.

    • jwz says:

      Thank you for everything, Dawn! You've been an inspiration!

      • Dawn says:

        All spelling and grammar mistakes are mine. I had Tracey for 30 years to correct me. I miss the staff. Keep up the good fight. All my love

  3. n-gate says:

    Good luck out there.

  4. Kethry says:

    If I managed to be on the Patreon for 4 years, while living off SSI and my late husband's life insurance, people who actually make money jolly well ought to chip in.

    And if I get a tech job of my own after I graduate from Coding Dojo on Friday, you bet your ass I'm unfreezing my donations and probably adding a zero to my old amount.

    We need our community spaces, which means we as a community need to SUPPORT those spaces. They can't survive without us. I just wish those of us who need the spaces the most also had the most money to give. Too many of us are seriously broke.

  5. Goran says:

    I will have a hard time visiting since I don't live in the US, but what you're doing is commendable, so I made a small donation. Don't give up.

  6. Ted Cousens says:

    As the first dj in the door and on the tables (truth!), I have many fond memories of the artistic vision that Jim English brought above ground from the illegal underground club scene. 11/22/1985 is your birthday. Two turntables on a beer refrigerator with the smallest Numark mixer you ever saw. By far one of my favorite places to spin (vinyl!) in a storied and illustrious career that spanned 12 years, in clubs, college and commercial radio. This former Billboard reporter hopes you continue to stay alive. You are still relevant and important to more people than you could possibly imagine.

  7. spaceman_spiff1969 says:

    The "two or three rich dudes" model is not sustainable, because two or three people, billionaires or not, are not a community.

    Oh, but they are Jamie. A very close-knit community. And that is exactly the fucking problem.

  8. Kaylahoop says:

    I had to reduce from $60 to $1 this month because I lost my bar tending job and haven’t gotten any unemployment. But I should be able to increase again soon. You’re fighting the good fight man. Thank you