The Possibilities 4, Golden West Edition

So, in lieu of imagining a new place/space in Albuquerque, I want to reflect on a place that was. The Golden West was, in my opinion, a pretty cool bar and live music venue. I remember seeing The Albuquerque Blues Connection play there a few years ago and having a really great night. More recently, I attended the Revolutions Theater Festival comedy night there, and was struck once again by the venue itself. Maybe not the best acoustics in town, but the old tin ceiling, western style bar, charming light fixtures, and rustic vibe certainly made it a treasure in Albuquerque. It was like walking into an old saloon. My hope is that the place is renovated in a way that tries to capture that feeling again. My worst fear is that they tear the whole building down and build condos or something. That place is a landmark and really adds to the downtown landscape. Anyway, cheers to what was, and cheers to the possibilities of what's to come.

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Comment by Benny the Icepick on February 29, 2008 at 6:18pm
Thanks, Brendisimo. I like this much better than my suggestion. Well done.
Comment by Gabriel on February 29, 2008 at 9:44pm
I can only think that Kathy will rebuild. I can't imagine her turning her legacy into lofts. There is a bank of ABQ account set up to help her...and anticipate a few fundraising shows...
Comment by Joan Fenicle on March 1, 2008 at 8:51am
I believe we all hope the Golden West can be rebuilt, with the support of the community - perhaps recapturing the feel of the old saloon and improving the acoustics at the same time. Glad to hear of the Bank of ABQ account - I'll get word out about that.
Comment by Richard Malcolm on March 1, 2008 at 12:20pm
El Rey may have a historic designation that will protect it from loftdom, and hopefully not keep in limbo, El Vado-style. (I'm trying not to say THE El Rey, just like I try not to say Rio Grande RIVER . . . even though those expressions have been endorsed by the Department of Bilingual Redundancy Department.)

Here's a practical possibility, assuming that the Golden West is truly a total loss (though hoping at least some of that great wooden bar can be salvaged . . . I'll help!).

This town is rife with music venues that were opened with little or no consideration for either the listeners or the musicians; it's all about selling booze, right?

Long, narrow rooms with acoustics from hell; stages placed next to the front door to ensure a steady stream of patrons crossing in front of the crowd . . . these were a couple of the problems with our beloved Golden West . . . ones that often kept people away in droves despite excellent musical offerings. As a music lover who weekly patronizes music venues, and who likes to enjoy an adult beverage along with my tunes, and as a musician, I think it would be very unfortunate to recreate that mistake.

Instead, there's an opportunity to use the front spaces of El Rey creatively, as an intimate performance venue designed to optimize acoustics, people flow, and audience experience, while maintaining the essential character of an old theatre lobby. The front possibly could be opened up for big events to use the full performance space, depending on structural factors.

I suspect that it was a very difficult challenge to carry the overhead for both the Golden West and El Rey 365 days a year when there were only significant crowds a fraction of those days. The sketch above might reduce the overall capacity for filling both spaces on the same night, but that was a rare event, and I suspect it would be much more viable to have a smaller crowd more often and empty space less often.

But wait! What about the GW? If it's truly totaled, at this point it's just a big empty box. So, why not do a basic fix-up of the smoke and water damage, and sell or lease it as a storefront? The proceeds could support the remodeling of El Rey. Anything that's salveagable could be moved next door to give the new space some essential Golden West ambience. (Please tell me the beautiful wooden bar didn't burn!)

Regarding rehabbing the main hall, a lot will depend on the exent of damage versus the amount of insurance coverage and community support. My preference would be to preserve its funky aesthetic, but clean it up!
Comment by Phil_0 on March 2, 2008 at 8:26pm
I don't think lofts are in El Rey's would have to be damaged a lot more than it (sounds like) it is before anyone sane contemplated converting it over. As for the GW, the Launchpad expansion idea wouldn't be the end of the world if no possibility of getting rebuilt in its own right existed.
Comment by Diego on March 3, 2008 at 1:49pm
This is what I heard and i don't like spreading rumors but I heard a cop say that the building was scheduled for demolition anyway to make room for a sky rise of condos or lofts. I hope this was false, or misinformed information. If they can renovate it back to the old days it would be marvelous.
Comment by Phil_0 on March 3, 2008 at 3:39pm
Diego - cop was misinformed. The skyrise is supposedly going in a block further south.
Comment by Diego on March 3, 2008 at 3:46pm
Yeah I knew about the Anasazi, that is why I thought it was a weird thing to say, since it is already going up! Or is this yet another skyrise that nobody can afford?
Comment by Gabriel on March 3, 2008 at 7:11pm
They are going to demo the buildings behind the lofts at 6th..the Lawless Law lofts will be there...down the block...but the El Rey should be safe. Hopefully we will all realize that we need to preserve our histiry.
Comment by Gabriel on March 3, 2008 at 7:12pm
er history..damn typo fairy...


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