Although the club scene in Center City ran from river to river - the heart in the early 80s was the East Side Club. Then, the after-hour heart was later found at both The Kennel Club and Revival.
Many of my younger friends remember Revival for their 1990s dance events and occasional live shows. My memory of the space is its early years, like in 1986 when I got a chance to see one of my personal idols ... ex-Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy in concert. He performed there a few times, but I first saw him in November of '86. The room was perfect for a live concert - high ceilings, loud soundsystem and faithful fans. Other bands I remember seeing at Revival in 1986 were 10,000 Maniacs and Flesh For Lulu.
Upstairs was a great dance hall, with an angled dj booth that looked over the space and bars at each end. Although you found yourself everywhere - I tended to dance under the backwards-spinning clock on the wall. The back rooms were what dreams were made of ... if your dreams were of illegal drugs and making out, that is.
The club offered it all - a hall of decadence that was notorious not only for its bathroom sex and bringing techno and industrial’s earliest sounds to America, but for introducing NYC performance artists like golden boy John Sexx, the yam-lovin Karen Finley, and the Ultimate Diva Joey Arias to Philadelphia. It was located in a neighborhood that was off the radar for most folk - so if the club went a bit longer than it was officially supposed to ... no neighbors complained.
Revival was run by David Cohen and his mom Helen and its personality came from both DJ Bobby Startup and promoter Bob 'Nature Boy' Denney. The club lasted 1o years until 1995, when David - who was big on microbrews, decided to chang the place to Jake & Oliver's House of Brews (named after David's two sons). From that point on, who really cares... ;)
For me, nights at Revival were chances to relax. By the time Revival was underway, it was damn near impossible for me to go to a gay club without having to be doing some form of business - thanks to my role at Au Courant Newsmagazine. In the mid 1980s, Revival was my personal retreat from everything.