in downtown Raleigh, NC
, from roughly the mid-80s
to the early-90's. Located next to, or across the street from, a tuxedo
rental place, IIRC. It may have actually been a fallout shelter, once upon a time
, and its Civil Defense fallout shelter
sign, legit or not, hung alongside the entrance. Once past the entrance, you'd head down some steps to the actual club. One side had the stage and dance floor
; the stage was built fairly close to the floor. The soundboard was at the back, and behind that was a room where you could back up your van and load/dump your equipment, IIRC. The other half of the place was a bar
, and that would be the first thing you saw upon entering the place.
It was often the only place I'd visit on trips to Raleigh, for seeing bands, or just soaking up the nicely-odd vibes on a night with nothing to do. One night one of the managers saw me there and asked if my band would play there; I gladly accepted, but found out that our drummer refused to set foot in the place (or in the city, for that matter), because an ex-boyfriend, part of the local hardcore scene, would surely be there. So the band as such didn't play there; our guitarists and manager played the gig, and I ran the mixing board. The opening number consisted of the revving up of a chainsaw, and went downhill from there.
I remember going there one night to catch Honor Role, in town from Richmond, but when I arrived, people were milling about outside. Robert was giving away copies of his "Booger Vault" sub-zine, all of one page, illegibly scribbled with fine-print gossip, hearsay, and "satire", plus reviews of the latest stuff by Corrosion of Conformity and Second Coming, a one-sentence Sonic Youth review ("I love them!", with hearts in place of both the "o" and the dot under the exclamation point) and cartoons. It was worth every penny. (I marvel sometimes that one local scenester later ran a credible suit-and-tie campaign for mayor). I went inside, and saw some members of Honor Role, goofing their way through a rendition of Devo's "Mongoloid". Apparently that gig was snafu'd as well, since they weren't all there.
There was a dance floor, but I was rarely there when there was actual dancing. One exception was when the Royal Crescent Mob played; they were good that night, in fine funky form, and I remember buying a copy of Land of Sugar from the band's guitarist. I seem to remember going outside, watching him fumble with some car keys, and opening the trunk to get at the records, but I may be confusing all that with something else. Oh well. /me is old and of faulty memory.
When I read that the place was "under new management" and would no longer be The Fallout Shelter, I made one last visit, but just sat at the bar, sipping beers (probably my entire beer consumption for the decade of the 90s) as some sort of goth/industrial night was going on, apparently a weekly thing. I watched videos of Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy, and such, on the muted television, glancing, on occasion, at all the black-clad, odd-looking, fab-u-lous people on the floor, dancing to inchoate mannered mayhem in robotic 4/4, and longed for the old messiness of the place, or at least a familiar face. It was already no longer The Fallout Shelter as I once knew it. I have no idea what's going on there now, or what name or names it has used in the last ten years. But you can still probably rent a tuxedo somewhere nearby.