So you’re decided to go to a show at a non-traditional venue in the Baltimore underground. Great!
Here are some of the questions you may have.
What time does the show start?
No one knows.
Unlike shows at bars or clubs, there are usually no employees on hourly wages and therefore no “clock”. Underground venues have their own math of when and how long for an event’s duration. They don’t have to close like a Baltimore bar at 2AM. The time on the flyer (if there was one) is probably more of an aspiration than a guarantee.
When will the show end?
When the police arrive.
If the police do not arrive, shows can go on into the wee hours depending on the friendliness of neighbors and the decisions of the hosts. At one point, underground shows were starting so late and ending so deep in the night that it was suggested to just start shows at dawn. Many former ravers (see below) dug on this idea, but it never came to pass.
Where is the location of the show?
DM for address.
It is a long-standing tradition that the address of non-traditional venues be kept off the Internet/flyers. Baltimore City police, when not up to other activities, may show up and shut it down (see second question). There is a whole complex legal situation involving a decision to tie liquor licenses to live performances during the “great rave panic” of the 1990s, the differences between a house party and a house show, and whether or not that money you were asked for was a donation.
Speaking of, how does that work?
Often, a friendly but vocal person will walk around after the first performer and after subsequent performances with a hat, a boot, a plastic vase… something for you to donate to the evening’s touring bands. You don’t have to donate.
But you should. You know that, right?
Will drinks be available?
No. But there is this place down the street…
Any underground venue runner knows of a “package goods” place nearby. If you are of age, it is wise to bring your own beverages and to plan for this to be the situation. After attending shows at the same underground venue over time, you will figure out the best place to stash your beverages to avoid things going missing. I can be a good marker to use for your stash as I do not move around much and don’t drink. Ask me what I am reading. I would be happy to talk about it.
Who are these people at these shows? Where do they come from?
Happily, our world continues to have people in it who live life deliberately. They often make up the sizeable contingent of the folks you end up elbow to elbow with in someone’s living room at these events. They may also be enrolled in one of the many colleges or universities in the area. Some are lifers, some are just passing through. Treat them as you would want to be treated and things will typically be fine. Remember your “home training”, and all will be well. We only have each other, especially in this situation. Especially these days.
Can I hang out in front of the venue?
It is never cool or good to hang out in front of the venue.
Sorry! It just isn’t.