By Jim Schutze
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By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Can a future Club Dada be successful? Yes—all parties interviewed for this piece agree on as much. So long, that is, as it's run right. Oh yeah, that. Meaning? Someone with club-management experience runs the place, for one. But is anyone really interested?
Before a Deep Ellum Enrichment Project meeting at Deep Ellum restaurant St. Pete's Dancing Marlin, Taylor Allday, Mark Roberts and David Marrett acknowledge that they, members of the group behind The Green Room's reopening, are interested in Club Dada—but only if they can run the venue as part of a collective, a la the defunct Entertainment Collaborative that once simultaneously ran The Green Room, Trees, Gypsy Tea Room and other spaces in the neighborhood.
They have some experience there; Allday was on the original management team at The Green Room. Dada, the threesome agrees, would fit nicely into those plans.
"There's a lot of nostalgia for Dada," says Allday. "It looks, in a lot of ways, like the same space it always was. But it's a shame that the patio has been left so neglected."
Like Tapia once did, Allday and his group are already envisioning how to clean up the space and get it ready for opening. They say they'd remove the head above the bar, for one, opening up the room a little bit. And they'd clean the place up, of course. Oh, and work on that patio too.
But if they were to move forward, they wouldn't reorganize the room like Tapia had planned. That much, they feel, would be unnecessary.
"A lot of it," Allday says, "is raising enough money to do it right. If we can't do it right, we won't do it."
Problem is, like Warr and Baker and Tapia before them, neither Roberts nor Marrett—the two members of The Green Room's ownership that would be charged with running Dada—have much actual venue-management experience. Roberts has some, having worked as a marketing consultant for venues such as the House of Blues and as the man behind the annual Rockers vs. Mods party at Sons of Hermann Hall. But he's never been the point person. Marrett, meanwhile, has no experience beyond being a longtime live music fan.
But, still, everyone has to start somewhere.
Like here: After a few years in the red at City Tavern, Florence is starting to see his time and effort pay off.
"We're in the midst of a record year," he says. "We're growing."
City Tavern's starting to become something of a destination venue. Local live music fans are showing up on the weekends to catch the venue's regular roster of performers. Denton bands, such as soulful blues-rock favorite RTB2, are starting to play City Tavern like it's their home base in Dallas.
The venue's getting better shows as a result and now is part of the conversation when independent booking agents look for spaces around town where they can hold their touring shows. Just two weekends ago, City Tavern hosted a crowded show from lo-fi, New Jersey-based pop-punk outfit Real Estate, currently among the biggest darlings of the blogosphere.
Florence, meanwhile, is turning his venue's newfound power into new local music ventures. This past summer, he launched his own record label and band management company. Currently, Round One Records counts RTB2 and favorite area folk duo The O's among its clients.
Florence credits three things for his venue's success: the growth of downtown Dallas as an entertainment district, the influx of residents in downtown and his venue's increased profile as a respected music venue.
Again, he credits Tapia for getting him started. And he maintains that Tapia knew what he was doing, as far as booking is concerned.
"Ben, really, was swinging for the fences," Florence says. "If he's got a fault, it's that he bit off more than he could chew."