Throughout the years Denton has been a hub of music culture, not only in Texas but all surrounding areas and states. Denton’s music festivals like Oaktopia and 35 Denton draw crowds from all over the United States, at Oaktopia 2014 I struck up a temporary friendship with some Colombian music lovers who came to Denton just to rock out.
Within the last year, three major Denton music venues have permanently closed their doors. Hailey’s Nightclub, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios and the iconic basement venue at J&J’s pizza have all seen better days. The state of the music scene became so alarming that several influential community members held a town hall meeting to discuss the decline in available venues and support for local and well known artists. President Smatresk urged UNT and its community to find solutions and openly discuss the changing music scene. How will these closing affect the much loved music of Denton?
Hailey’s succeeded as an essential Denton night club for twelve years before closing New Year’s Eve of 2015. It hosted weekly wild theme parties like 90’s night as well as big names like Band of Horses and Arcade Fire. Why was this well loved night failing? I found some answers in an article from the Dallas Observer. There are plenty of theories as to why Hailey’s was unsuccessful in it’s last years, all of them revolve around losing money from lacking a reliable crowd that would come out despite the event.
Rubber Gloves (in it’s heyday) was one of my absolute favorite spots in Denton. It was just divey enough to be inviting and non-intimidating but not so gross that your shoes stick to the dried beer on the floor of the bar. RGRS posted on their facebook a statement about their sudden closing in June 2016. Many of us Denton locals are still missing Rubber Gloves to this day.
The closing of J&J’s basement in late June really took me by surprise. This solidified my worry for the Denton music culture. These three establishments were a few of my favorites in the DFW area. While a few music venues still remain in Denton the punk and alternative scene seem to really be pushed aside. When people think of Denton music what comes to mind? Our great jazz over at Andy’s bar on the square? Country music at the North Texas fair or Rockin’ Rodeo? These recently closed venues were supporting most of the lesser known alternative and punk music in the DFW area. The closings have pushed alternative artists into house shows and other smaller venues that are harder for the average music lover to access. House show style venues have a much smaller presence in both online media and marketing as well as street marketing like posters in store fronts and on campus. This creates a smaller audience and a loss of interest in the alternative music scene.
This has me thinking, what caused this decline in audience and eventual closing of these venues? How does social media affect the people in the Denton music scene? How is the alternative music scene going carry on without these important establishments? This is something to keep an eye on when people are looking for things to do in the fall months.