It's never a stretch to get me feeling nostalgic about the old Ritz on East 11th Street (see these posts, for just a few examples), but yesterday's rumination about Guns N' Roses found me pining for another old incarnation of the place, an uneasy residency made known by a once-ubiquitous flyer campaign (photo at left courtesy of amolho4).
The original Rock Hotel was a dilapidated basement-level ballroom in an eroding hotel over in the West Village. The promoter of same was this dude named Chris Williamson, a curiously hirsute gent who seemed to single-handedly maintain an iron grasp over New York's then-thriving punk/hardcore/metal/crossover scene, largely thanks to his involvement with the Cro-Mags (whose Age of Quarrel he produced). For one reason or another, Williamson ended up moving the Rock Hotel from its Jane Street location to the Ritz over on 11th Street, a larger venue that would serve as a greater staging point for the percolating hardcore/metal community. You can read a little more about the Jane Street location here. Ironically enough, that space later morphed into "The Jane."
Back at the Ritz, the Rock Hotel seemed to hit its stride. For rabid fans of all things punk, metal and hardcore like myself, "New York's Only Rock Hotel at the Ritz" served up a seemingly non-stop menu high-decibel fun. Williamson's distinctive flyers -- basic black with bold, block capital white letters, usually framed around a signature skull -- were literally everywhere. Given my habits, I started to amass a formidable collection of same (although unlike in most cities, NYC's flyers seemed to get glued to lampposts and walls, instead of stapled, which meant prizing them intact required a good deal of fine-fingered finesse). At one point, the Rock Hotel even started shilling t-shirts (yes, that's me looking unfortunate in one circa 1987).
Somewhere, something snapped. By the end of the 80's, the Rock Hotel shows seemed to completely cease. The 11th Street incarnation of the Ritz closed and a new operation opened up several blocks to the northwest in the space of the old Studio 54. The 11th Street space later re-opened as Webster Hall (its original name, by the way), a venue that initially eschewed live acts in favor of hosting dance club events (which continue to this day). They do still host bands, but it's no longer THE spot, so to speak.
Today, I only have about three of of my old Rock Hotel flyers left. I have a deeply distressed one for a Dead Boys reunion show circa Christmas `88 (featuring a Santa hat on the skull), an ancient Circle Jerks one, and comparatively pristine one for a Venom show with Voi Vod and the Cro-Mags (you can read another fan's account of that actual show here). I did a bit of sniffing around on the web, and these were a few others I came up with. Do you have a stash of your own?