Southpaw, one of the original and best live music venues in Brooklyn, is closing. The news hit me particularly hard. Why? It was my home away from home for the first three years I lived in New York City. They kindly employed a young, wide-eyed, soon-to-be-failed actress, and welcomed her into their family, creating some wonderful friendships that I hope will last a lifetime.
As most aspiring actors know, in order to pursue an acting career it is essential to find a flexible job that allows you to go to auditions, shoots, and meetings during the day. That’s why the city is full of actors who are also bartenders, waiters, and temps. I was one of them.
I thought if I had to waitress or bartend, I also wanted to be exposed to live music, one of my greatest passions. Based on its history in music, I thought I might find such a place on Bleecker Street in the Village. I did find a place, but it was an awful hole-in-the-wall venue where tourists came to watch cheesy AC/DC cover bands. Thankfully, a college friend strolled in one night and asked me what the hell I was doing there. He wrote down an address in Park Slope, Brooklyn and told me to go there immediately.
The next day I made my way to the address. The sign outside was really subtle and the front entrance looked like a closed up metal garage. I thought he had given me the wrong street number but I tried the door anyway. It slowly opened to a curtain of red velvet, behind which was a huge space dripping with color and creative energy. The walls were lined with old vinyl album covers and the eclectic bar was covered artistically in photos, scraps of metal, flowers, you name it. When I saw the stage, I knew immediately that I wanted to work there.
A handsome, bearded man with a hipster cap sauntered over and asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted a job. He asked a few questions, gave me a wink and a smile, and said “You’re hired.” I ended up staying for three years, making friends, and watching some of the best musical performances around.
Southpaw’s red velvet curtains opened and launched a number of outstanding performers. Those who booked the bands are still my go-to music gurus. They know more about the scene than anyone else.
But times change. A turbulent economy, rent increases, and bands that became too expensive took their toll on Brooklyn’s gem, so sadly they are closing. This will be their last week in business. It’s officially the end of an era.
Just wanted to say thanks for the good times.