Wednesday, January 18, 2006

An Urban Oasis

In late 1984 the world changed as The Kennel Club opened its doors. The first time I climbed past those plastic legs and arms that were attached to the walls of the flight of stairs that took you to Heaven, my world had changed forever.

Sure, The Kennel Club was a kick-ass space. But it was like having a big dysfunctional family - all crammed into a dirty basement and finally - like hitting oil - we get to pack up the truck an move to Walnut ... Street that is.

We finally had a home that was hip, trendy and still us. A huge video bar with carpeted stairs that you could fit dozens of folk for a weekly screening of shock/gore videos -- Jakey Boy (Seth Jacobs) and I produced a weekly event at the Kennel Club called SLEAZE-A-RAMA. The weekly screening was so successful we wound up doing it twice a week for a while ... although I was having trouble juggling this project as well as being General Manager of Au Courant and all the other crap life was tossing me at that time.

But it was a great event - made even better by the space. As you walked into the main dance floor - you hit a video wall across the floor and a DJ booth that looked down on the space. You could cut out the back and be on the outdoor patio - which was sandwiched between the buildings, but sliced a direct view to the night sky.

You'd fire a joint, look to the stars in the sky with a mix of Run-DMC, the Furs, World Destruction and Smiths behind you - and just appreciate the moment.

Although I saw many shows at The Kennel Club, including Homo Picnic, The Electric Love Muffin, The Dead Milkmen and Love And Rockets, to me, The Kennel Club wasn't for live music - it was for socializing. I could see live music at a number of venues at that point in time, so I loved the club the most when it was just a dance night - or a fashion show or special performance party.

One band I totally adored was what some referred to as the 'house' band of The Kennel Club -- Experimental Products!

Just check out this audio sample ( u need Real Player):


This band was so great and their runaway smash dance track "Glowing In The Dark" shaped 1985 for me.

Ya'know... I'm gonna spin it this Friday at Sex Dwarf ... just cause it so needs to be heard in a powerful club system! So, for you readers that will be at Fluid ... you're in for a special treat! :)


The Marilyn said...

Michael G (of Experimental Products) came out to Sex Dwarf once to present me with a signed copy of "Glowing In The Dark". I really didn't know about them at all, but then I did the research and saw how historical they were to the Philly new wave scene in the 80s and they are still relevant today. That song was recently remixed and re-released in Europe. And the original LP is worth quite a bit of money. I'm honored to have it!

Kenny said...

WOW! Thanks for the trip down memory lane once again. The Kennel was my home away from home. It was a place I finally felt I belonged.
It will be sooo cool to hear "Glowing in the Dark" again. I haven't heard it in like 20 years!

Anonymous said...

Free beer, lots of little black beauties and pretty boys to snag from thier girls. :-)

Anonymous said...

That place was really a find. I remember needing to be "sponsored" to get in the door which wasn't something I hadn't seen before not being a Philly native. The music was great and how many places have you ever been that took the time to print up a playlist? I wish I still had a few of those but they went missing years ago. What I didn't get rid of was a few copies of "Glowing in the dark". I played one a few times, enough to put it on a few cassettes and I believe there are a few still sealed. They were giving a few away the night they screened the movie of the Cramps playing a Sanitarium. I remember that NONE of my "friends" would go to the Kennel Club, it just wasn't their "scene". Thinking back, I can see now just how boring they were then.

I do remember how aggrivated and alienated I felt when the place closed because in quick succession, three places I used to frequent in three states were shuttered. I don't know how much truth there is to the rumor but I heard that some guy bought the place for his daughter to live in with some of her friends while they went to college. I don't want to believe that someone would be such an a$$h0le but I've seen much MUCH worse.

Michael G. said...

Hello to Robert, Marilyn and all...

Guess what I found while performing a web search? That's right...
The reflective lobster of rock...!

My name is Michael Gross co-founder of the synth band Experimental

First let me get it out...
and say you don't know what an honor and privilege it is to be
referred to as The Kennel Club
house band....!
When I read that sentence I actually felt my heart lift.

Marilyn and I did meet, and exchanged
the standard operating procedure
of hip-sexy DJ babe and "the stranger, on the dance floor not dancing, but now approaching the booth intent on having DJ interaction" ;)~ kisses to Marilyn.

Robert... You are a mystery man.
I have to believe we have met but didn't hang together much.
I lived and worked in Northern Delaware and from 1981 I would often drive to Philly on the weekends staying with friends.
In 1985 more often than not I'd be crashing at Chip "Dish" Marcoccia's 21st and Chestnut apt.

My weekends in 1985 were filled with band stuff and chasing big haired babes dressed in black.
So any intros we may have had was like passing ships in the night no doubt... ;)~

In 1987 I finally moved to Philly and commute to work in Del.
My first Philly apt 3rd fl stone
row-house at 17th and Green.
But of course by that time The Kennel Club was R.I.P...

What a loss...! Those stars will never align again...
The place was Rainbows disco/gay before becoming the Kennel?
Was never there.
But I did spend time at and do have some great memories starring the Kennel Club. ;)~
Chip was the key that got me almost full "insider" access...
Following Chip up a filled entry stairway passing those waiting cover and ID.
Reaching the top getting a hairy eyeball followed by a little wave from the bouncer after a "He's with me" from Chip. I had good luck there meeting interesting women.
But meeting up with center city friends and hanging out on the deck
was the best.

My first memories...?
1984 band mate Mark Wilde approached and got approval from
manager David Wildman to shoot homemade music videos using a closed Kennel Club as the set. The vibe of the place and staff was intoxicating. A nice crowd to fall into.
David had an energetic willingness to help out local bands.

Bobby Startup had shown us similar consideration.
Generously supporting our "maturing" live act by booking us the previous year.

I've got some Lee Paris experience.
Chip was connected in one way or another to much of the Philly club scene.

Including Revival...
stories... stories...

Enough of that for now...
My meds are kicking in and I may share something better left on 13th St.

My blog is new and empty.... I'd rather respond on yours.. ;)~

Michael G. said...

A web search found your writing.
Michael G. here co-founder Experimental Products.
It's a thrill and real honor to be considered the Kennel Club "house band".
Thank-you... You've made my day.
Cheers to Robert and Marilyn.

Michael G. said...

Yo...! Robert and Marilyn...

M.G. from Experimental Products here.. ;)~ Found this blog via web search. Very cool! I'm thrilled to be considered the "house band" for The Kennel Club... A great honor! I have many a memory of the Kennel Club. I enjoy your writing Robert.
We must have rubbed shoulders at some point. East Side, Revival etc.