The wife and I frequently divvy up the school drop-off schedule for our kids. Somehow, despite the fact that it was a grey, relentlessly rainy morning, it was determined yesterday that it was my turn. Dutifully, I shuttled my little ones out the door, over a few avenues and up twenty-something blocks to their school safely, happily and, for the most part, dryly. I then turned on my heels and marched back downtown through the rain, zig-zagging my way back across the avenues and through various neighborhoods.
Walking down Third Avenue, I decided to swing to the right when I hit East 11th street, taking me past the seemingly eroding Loews Village VII and, of course, Webster Hall, a locale that never fails to trigger an avalanche of memories. Not because of its incarnation as Webster Hall, mind you, but for its back history as The Ritz.
I've spoken about The Ritz numerous times here (see below), as it was a fairly crucial spot for me in the mid-to-late 80's (prior to shutting its doors in 1988 or so and re-locating to the former Studio 54 space uptown for a number of years as "The New Ritz").
By comparison, I probably only managed to see a handful of shows in that storied room on East 11th street, but they were all amazing experiences. Off the top of my head, I recall seeing The Ramones, Squeeze, The Mission, The (reunited) Dead Boys, Murphy's Law, Fishbone, The Toasters, Urban Blight, the Circle Jerks, Redd Kross, D.O.A., Kix and a few others.
When it changed over to Webster Hall at the tail-end of the 80s, it was pretty much strictly a dance club for a long while, but they eventually started having the odd live show now and again. I remember seeing Redd Kross there once more in the mid-90's and being so excited to be back in the building. Killing Joke even played there again in 2003 or so (squeezed between a couple of incongruous bands on a clueless CMJ bill). More recently (kinda), I've seen The Secret Machines there (and spotted Bowie up in the balcony -- that was cool). Yes, it's the same room, ostensibly, but it just doesn't feel quite like the old Ritz anymore, which is sad.
I don't really have any news here, other than that I'm starting a new category for ruminations of this kind called Vanished Venues. Look for more soon. Below the ancient flyer, see some memorable live footage all captured at the old Ritz.
The t-shirt shot above, by the way, comes from the new Joey Ramone video, "New York City."
The Cult in 1985
Cro-Mags in 1986
Dead Boys on Halloween in 1986
Slayer in 1986
Samhain in 1986
Bad Brains in late 1986
More about The Ritz....