By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The idea seemed like a good one from the start: one cover charge allowing you admission into a handful of clubs all night -- and no, we're not just talking about the Club Clearview-Art Bar-Blind Lemon-Red complex. Last August, Trees, Galaxy Club, The Curtain Club, Club Dada, and Club Clearview began hosting the cleverly titled Deep Ellum's First Friday series on the first Friday of every month, offering entry into all five clubs for the price of a single $5 wristband. It ain't free, but if you call the clubs' bluff and hop from bar to bar, it's pretty close.
Since then, one club has joined the roster (The Rock), and one dollar has been added to the cover charge, and it still seems like a good idea. OK, maybe every spot doesn't have something you want to hear -- The Rock, we're looking in your direction -- but, hey, you'd be paying at least $5 or $6 to get into one club anyway, so it's not like the plan is taking money out of anyone's pockets except for a few club owners'. And since it was their idea in the first place, and since people who spend less on admission spend more on liquor, no one really loses. Well, that isn't entirely true. After all, less cash at the door means less cash in bands' pockets, but musicians have never been that important, right? (Save your letters -- that was sarcasm.)
As Deep Ellum's First Friday celebrates its one-year anniversary on September 3, the plan appears to have worked, at least as far as the clubs are concerned. "It seems like it's gotten people into the neighborhood that aren't generally in the neighborhood, which is always a bonus to the clubs, and the bands as well," says Scott Beggs, Trees' manager. "I think it's been really beneficial to some bands, as far as exposing them to new crowds and helping them build up their fan base, as well as getting people who aren't normally down here more acquainted with the clubs and everything."
Bands include The Adventures of Jet, Chomsky, Pinkston, Grand Street Cryers, Soul Hat, Visceral Punch, Wakeland, EKG, and more.
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Doug Simmons, co-owner of The Curtain Club, agrees. "We've been real happy with it. We think the event itself has tons and tons of potential. It kind of tailed off for a few months, but now it's getting back to the point where we're doing around 2,000 people between all the venues. If nothing else, I'm just happy to see all the clubs do something collectively. I hope it continues to grow."
The event got off to a rocky start, dealing with the demise of Q102 (and one of its prime advertising outlets) in its second month, and a torrential downpour the next. Even though it made it through both of those problems, as of this month First Friday no longer exists -- at least not under that name. Due to a local social group that claims it owns the copyright to the name First Friday -- which is a bit like someone claiming to own the copyright to "two-fer-Tuesday" or any other innocuous retail come-on -- the event will now be known as Deep Friday.
"I know personally of three or four events that call themselves First Friday," Simmons says. "We could have challenged it, and the attorneys we have said we probably could have won it, but none of us wanted to go through the expense or hassle."
And they're passing on the savings to you.