“Through the fear of being real, through the fear of being really you…” Tones on Tail – Go!
When I was in college (the first time around, in the 90’s) I spent most of my time doing only a few things. Singing, drinking coffee, working a crap job or two in the customer service industry, and going to bars. Since then, not much has changed, but the frequency at which I do these things has. I am a once every couple weeks bar attendee now. My 38 year old body cannot handle the drinking that my 20 year old body could. It takes me several days to recover from a really crazy night, and now that I have more important goals, it depresses me to no end when I am distracted from work because of this kind of stupid sickness. That is why last night was such a big deal.
“When the world is too much with me. Please leave, just go away. Now nothing’s sacred anymore. When the demons breaking down your door. You’re still staring down at the floor.” The Chameleons UK – Swamp Thing
The club was packed. Wall to wall people after only a short time open and they mostly stuck it out until the end. I knew it would be well attended, but I had no idea it would be THIS full. This, was the Continental Reunion at the Town Ballroom. Ides of March be damned, we came to party! It struck me instantly upon walking in, as “Head Like A Hole” blared from the room that was deemed “upstairs” that this would be a great night. If all the people that were in attendance at this reunion were all at the continental together, at the same time, Jessie would have had to start making people wait in a rope line. Not even half of the people there would have fit inside the continental. Although it was good to have such a large venue to hold the event, one always wishes they could be in the original building. Alas, the building is gone, but the memories live on.
“Hear the crushing steel, feel the steering wheel…” The Normal – Warm Leatherette
The screens were playing videos with neon swooshes over them, just like they used to. After spending a bit of time dancing in the “upstairs” room (Nitzer Ebb, Ministry, Sisters of Mercy) we made our way back through the crowd to the concert venue. As we walked through the doors and up the small staircase the first sight was the sign from the stage. Bud must have kept it and there it was in all it’s glory – THE CONTINENTAL – we are back.
“The world. The world turns around. And the world and the world, yeah. The world drags me down.” The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
The Continental was not just a bar and we honestly do not need the space to bring the scene back to life. Yes, the place itself is missed, but the memories and the people that still persist are all we need to have a proper Continental in 2013. Last night was proof. The smell of clove cigarettes, incense, sweat, and pizza that hit you when you walk through the doors was EXACTLY the same as 1995 or 1985. The people dancing with themselves on the dance floor (even without mirrors and lighted ceiling) paint a picture of the original place. The music blaring from the speakers in all the areas of the club, bring back a flood of late nights spent traipsing up and down the staircase, from the concert downstairs and the favourite bartender to the dance floor upstairs with the excellent dj to the elevated patio that could disassemble and send us plunging to our deaths at any moment. The music persists. The senses take in all that was and still is, through the people that lived it and continue on.
“This is the only time I really feel alive.” nine inch nails – the only time
If we could do this every year, it would do us all good. The generations that attended the Continental are now ranging in age from late 30’s to early 60’s (with a sprinkling of younger and older for good measure) and we cannot keep up the outings to a club the way we used to. Sure, maybe happy hour on Fridays, but 4 or 5 nights a week until 4am? Not gonna happen. But one weekend in March every year, that is totally doable. One weekend to bring back the music, the dancing, the drinking, the community. In the end that is what it is really all about. Community. We still have it, we just do not have a space like the Continental to gather. Technology has changed the ways in which we interact and that is why Generation x was the last to really enjoy venues like the Continental. We still liked to gather and interact with each other in the real world. That meant everything to us. To feel a connection with another person, or with a song, or with a place. Not just a computer.
“No party she’d not attend. No invitation she wouldn’t send. Transfixed by the inner sound of your promise to be found.” Siouxsie and the Banshees – Kiss Them For Me
Don’t get me wrong – I love the internet as much as anyone, maybe even more, but I also love to gather in public with other humans. Sounds trivial, but true. To be in public, having a discourse, sharing a meal, sharing a glass of wine, sharing our lives – this is what gathering is about. Chatting online and on mobile phones is convenient, but nothing replaces in person communication. Nothing replaces dancing on a floor that is jam packed. Nothing replaces that feeling of oneness when everyone moves in unison to that one specific part of the song – “so what!”. Nothing replaces screaming the lyrics out at the top of your lungs with every other person around you. Nothing replaces interaction, reaction. Nothing. And it never will. So – where is the next Continental? Where is that place that those of us who are not that young anymore can gather to really feel alive and as one? I don’t have an answer for you now, but I hope to find it soon. Otherwise, the writer and I might be hightailing it out of Buffalo once we get our ultimate degrees. Move to a place that feels like we can be a part of the community. We want for that place to be Buffalo and after last night there is a glimmer of hope. Keep the dream alive.
“Why can’t I live a life for me? Why should I take the abuse that’s served? Why can’t they see they’re just like me? It’s the same, it’s the same in the whole wide world.” Every Day Is Halloween – Ministry
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