Slim's staff was informed on Wednesday that the 11th Street nightclub will close permanently after more than 30 years. The decision had been made late last year, long before the coronavirus pandemic forced its immediate shutdown, Scaggs told The Chronicle [...]
Scaggs, Caufield and Hellman operated the clubs and free festival for their love of music. They laughed about competitors who were in the business for the money. Slim's owners failed to take a dime of profit out of the clubs all these years. [...]
Caufield, an original investor in Silicon Valley startups from America Online to Google, loved owning the club. He would get behind the bar and pour free drinks. [...] "What were billionaires like Warren and Frank doing caring about some blues club? It was a gift they gave themselves."
That's a pretty gross framing there, "a gift they gave themselves." He's saying that it wasn't about building a place for artists to thrive, creating community, or about giving back to their community. No, it has to be about what they got out of it personally.
Let's be very clear about this: Slim's never made a dime. Its 30 year cultural legacy -- and an incredible legacy it was -- only got to happen because of the whims of billionaires. If you look at what they did through the myopic lens of calling it a "business" -- that is, a financial instrument where you put money in one end, turn the crank, and more money comes out the other end -- then you'd consider it a spectacular failure.
But that's not what we, who run nightclubs, do. We facilitate the creation of our culture: You push money in one side, turn the crank, and what comes out the other side is art and community and music and stories.
But not money. Never money.
So if Caufield is to be believed, it means that all this time, Slim's was two or three rich dudes throwing a party for themselves... "And, whatever, I guess all of you plebes can attend, until we get bored with it."
So here we are, and the Money Men who had been supporting Slim's for so many decades finally decided to stop doing so. Two years ago, they sold it off to multinational superpredator Golden Voice. And, surprise surpise, the new owners Gordon Gecko'ed that shit, because, if at any moment a thing is worth more money by cutting it up and selling it off for parts, that's what they'll do. Then they move on, and consume and destroy the next thing, and so on, and so on.
In the DNA Lounge version of this story, I've been funding this place for decades off my 90s Startup money, and that money is nearly gone, because I was never rich like those guys are.
DNA Lounge isn't some whim of a group of dilettante plutocrats. It's not some side-hobby I toy around with when I'm not private-jetting off to my fifth mansion or luxurious doomsday bunker or whatever. This is all I do. I didn't expect this to be my life's work, but it is, because I think it's important.
I hope you think it's important too, and want DNA Lounge, your community, and all our communities here, to continue to exist after this pandemic lockdown. Please share our donation links. Please donate or contribute to our Patreon. Without our communities becoming much more heavily involved, this could be the end of the DNA Lounge project.
The "two or three rich dudes" model is not sustainable, because two or three people, billionaires or not, are not a community.
And let me close by casting a particularly strong side-eye to those of you working in the tech industry. You're making a quarter million a year and thinking "Wellllll.... I do like that place. Maybe I'll kick in $10 a month..."
If you add a couple-or-three zeroes onto that, then your community, all our other communities, and DNA Lounge itself, might just make it through this pandemic.