Last Sunday, the manager of the Derby informed patrons that the Derby is closing its doors on January 31st. Next Sunday will be the last night of swing dancing at the world famous nightclub. Even he had only been told about it just the day before.
Apparently, Loiuse’s restaurant next door will remain open, so that means the building will still be there (of course it’s a protected architectural landmark now also). No one could say what would move into the space next.
The prevailing theory for the closing is that there was a shooting during a hip hop night which gave the landlord an excuse to yank the lease. Apparently there is a lack of interest by the building owner to have a club there. Also, on more than a few swing nights this year, I’ve noticed that they couldn’t possibly be breaking even based on the number of people there, however, I hear they are packed on other nights, so the reason might not have been financial.
All of the veteran swing dancers there on Sunday were shocked and saddened at the thought of losing this great venue, arguably the birthplace of the neo-swing movement. For all of its shortcomings, the Derby holds tons of special memories. We took our first swing lessons there, made new friends there, and danced till the wee hours of the night. It was also a place where you could bring your non-swing dancer friends. In its heydey, it was the hippest place to go swing dancing, with its beautiful bar, spacious back room, and of course, live swing bands every night including Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Revue, Steve Lucky, Jumpin’ Jimes, Mora’s Modern Rhythmists, and Jonathan Stout..
Next Sunday probably will be the last night of Swing dancing at the Derby as we know it. Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five are signed up to play this final swing gig there. If you’re a regular, you should go. If you’ve never been there before, you should go. I anticipate a huge crowd to say farewell. I for one will miss the Derby greatly! This was a special place. – Brian
Update: Here are my photos of that night!