In a simple e-mail statement thanking the patronage, Steven Bishop announced the doors of Strutters closed for good on November 16. Once again, the building that housed the legendary punk club Wacky's will sit dim and dormant, and everyone can go back to complaining about having to see shows at the same old venues over and over again. Strutters has unwittingly fallen prey to a uniquely provincial phenomenon centered on the St. Mary's Strip, a veritable Bermuda Triangle of bars that seems to swallow startups as quickly as they are erected.
“We're basically just out of money,” explains owner/operator Bishop. “I put most of the blame on myself for spending a lot of money on things that didn't show a return — like a great PA and advertising. I also think that many of the problems we had boil down to the fact that most local bands just don't give a shit anymore.”
What is it with San Antonio? Are we compelled by some unseen force to shoot ourselves in the ass over and over again? (¡Viva Tacoland forever!) Why is it that we can't seem to keep a healthy, centralized scene going?
“It's strange when you come to realize how clueless some people in this town really are. Sometimes the collective idiocy really blows me away. Bands can't be bothered to promote, let alone attempt to bring in even 20 people. They're lazy, and expect the clubs to carry the brunt of that responsibility — and still get paid,” says Bishop. “If a band can't pull that `self-promotion` off, they seriously need to reconsider their reasons for playing music. In that respect, I basically feel like I got shit on by the local scene.”
Successful development of a nightlife district by and for locals is not a mysterious process. We have plenty of regional models — Austin, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta — to choose from. Contrary to its current yuppie veneer, 6th Street was not pioneered by real estate tycoons but by hippies, drug dealers, and bikers — not exactly rocket scientists — who managed to accomplish in less than a decade what we have failed to do in three. 6th Street spurred development that now sprawls an extended corridor from I-35 to Lamar. But stare down the darkened, ill-patrolled bend that is North St. Mary's, and a collective recollection of its violent past doesn't seem so distant. It's no surprise that businesses continually fail to attract more than the pie-sliver demographic of habitual drunks, scenesters, and kids with fake IDs breaking curfew. Turning an area around is not an easy undertaking. Perhaps it's just easier to drive to Austin and have someone do it for you.
A sampling of the verve graveyard:
Green Onion/Reverb Lounge
Club Irie Vibes
N. St. Mary's Brewing Co.
Wong's Art Bar
Niles Wine Bar
Cibolo Creek Country Club
Eastwood Country Club
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