Arcadia Fire Sale

Categories: News
We recall the Arcadia Theater in better days. Yesterday wasn't one of 'em.

It would seem imprudent and rude to let the Arcadia's passing pass without so much as a "so long" this morning. (I'd do the same for Cafe Nostra or Syn Bar or Condom Sense, but, really, just don't have the warm memories attached, ya know? Did like Nuevo Leon a lot, though.) Anyone who's lived in Dallas for even a decade has fond memories of the vaudeville house that burned down yesterday, long after most thought it was already a hole in the ground. Though it began life as a silent-movie and vaudeville house in 1926, as recently as 30 years ago it was a movie theater; in 1973 Deep Throat played there and got the people who screened it popped on obscenity charges later tossed out. Most recently it's been Liquid in the Arcadia, a dance club; needless to say, ain't been there in years, though I was looking forward to John Kenyon's Carousel Club, which the former Fast & Cool Club owner was planning to open in the space as an homage to Jack Ruby's Commerce Street establishment from way back. Probably safe to say that fall opening has been pushed back, uh, indefinitely.

Most folks who've been away for years used to go all the time. Once, not so long ago, it was a popular as any live-music venue in town--a must-play on the mid-level-but-on-the-way-up indie-rocker (Cowboy Junkies, Sonic Youth) or lapsed alternastar (Violent Femmes, Sonic Youth) circuits. Metallica and Anthrax played there; so did Miles Davis and Steve Earle and the Ramones. And in the mid- to late 1980s, it hosted regular multi-band bills featuring local heroes; 4 Reasons Unknown and New Bohemians shared a stage in July 1985, and three years later the "Munsters of Rock" show took place featuring featuring End Over End, Three on a Hill, Shallow Reign, Last Rites, Course of Empire, and Hash Palace. That was around the same time the Dallas Observer hosted its first Music Awards at the Arcadia, with a bill featuring the likes of Sara Hickman and Michelle Shocked; amazingly, I didn't work here then (high school got in the way), but I do recall watching the awards on WFAA-Channel 8, which broadcast them late on a Saturday night. Wonder whatever became of that tape.

The paper version of Unfair Park hosted our Music Awards there again in 1999, and it ranks high (you have no idea) on the list of all-timers. Tripping Daisy headlined, with a set so euphoric I'd swear to this day it was really Polyphonic Spree. X's John Doe, one half of punk's greatest singer-songwriter couples, joined Old 97's Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond for a few. Mr. Peppermint, Dallas Cowboys great Harvey Martin and Willie Hutch (The Mack who wrote the Jackson Five's "I'll Be There") presented. The late, great Go Metric USA played, as did local soul great Bobby Patterson...oh, and Secret Machines played one of its first gigs. Christ, why didn't we record those things? If you feel like sharing any of your memories, or reading the fond farewells of others, go here; or send 'em to us. We get enough we'll put them all in one big obit to a local landmark that is no more. --Robert Wilonsky


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