Party Like It’s 1989

By Bill Gerdes

8
Posted March 29, 2012 in News

The legacy of Club Metro simply refuses to die

For folks of a certain age, let’s say 35 to 50, who lived in the IE at the time, Club Metro—in what they said was Riverside but was really Rubidoux—is a rusty artifact of our youth. Simply put, if you came of age in the Inland Empire during the ’80s and ’90s you went to the Metro . . .  because . . . because . . . well, there wasn’t much else for one thing.

More than that, though, was the one-stop-shopping aspect to the place. There were live shows at the Metro—the Ramones played there amongst a slew of other bands. There was a thriving alternative scene at the club, especially goth/industrial/synth-pop which was the focus of one of the Metro’s rooms, while the main room featured more commercial dance music and hip-hop. It was this multi-roomed, multi-genre approach to the place that I found intriguing when I was young. Long before I’d explored the nightclub scene in L.A. or Europe, I got a small taste of it at the Metro. They had go-go dancers in the early ’90s—that felt hip and cosmopolitan to this Riverside lad.

Most clubs in the IE at the time were either meat-markets attached to chain restaurants (read: Carlos O’Brien’s) or dinky joints dedicated to live music (read: Spanky’s). Club Metro was both and more. For a while, the 18-and-over Club Metro drew people from Palm Springs, Orange County and L.A. out to little-ass Rubidoux to hear music, dance and drink. Eventually the crowds got larger and rougher, too. By the mid-’90s, Club Metro had a reputation as a dangerous club, a reputation that only worsened after a fatal shooting in the parking lot in 2003. Club owner Al Kirsinas, tired of the hassles, closed up shop not long after. When I heard the Metro was closing, my first thought was amazement that it was still around in the first place. To me, Club Metro will always represent 1989.

That’s not the case for everyone, though. It turns out that Club Metro has a dedicated group of DJs, music lovers and past attendees for whom the Metro still resonates, albeit with a dark synthesizer beat. Take Jason Scamara, a.k.a. DJ Liquid Sex Drive. Scamara, along with wife Sabrina, is the driving force behind a Club Metro reunion scheduled for this Friday night at Mediterranean Palace in Riverside. The couple, along with DJ Jedi, Mr. Bubble and Jason Griffin (who will be spinning in honor of his recently deceased brother who was supposed to do the show), will be putting on a tribute to the old Metro.

The reunion is scheduled for 9:30 p.m., Friday at Mediterranean Palace, 1223 University Ave., Riverside. There is a $20 cover.

Why, you might be asking, put on a reunion for a club that’s a dim memory to most of us? Scamara’s got a host of reasons: “There’s no place like that anymore,” he tells me over the phone. “It wasn’t just the music; it was a big venue. [It was] the only place we had like that out here.”

Scamara, who is a club promoter as well as a DJ, has that right. One could wander drink in hand through the Metro’s different rooms only to emerge an hour later at the starting point.

Ultimately though, the desire to throw a reunion party for the club seems less based on size than memories. As Scamara puts it, “It’s more about the people,” when describing the rationale for the reunion. Indeed there’s a seriously dedicated group of ex-Metro goers who keep the club alive on various social media sites, where people banter about various shows, nights, whether they happened in ’89 or 2001. Now, they’ve got a chance to relive the memories in person. Viva Club Metro—if only for one night.


8 Comments


  1.  
    Wil

    Bill, in reference to:

    “Jason Griffin (who will be spinning in honor of his recently deceased brother who was supposed to do the show)”

    Jason’s brother, John Griffin, was a Club Metro DJ (DJ Johnny Quest) who also DJ’d at Harry C’s in Riverside prior to joining Mike Calabrese (DJ Jedi) at Club Metro. Johnny was a great person and a fantastic DJ who even Jason says taught him everything he knows. The reunion won’t be the same without John there.




  2.  
    Sandy Griffin

    The “recently deceased brother” you so rudely left unnamed was my husband, known to his Club Metro fans as DJ Johnny Quest.




  3.  
    Mike DJ JEDI

    HERE Is The Review that I wrote::::: : Club metro opened late 80’s with multiple rooms playing anywhere from top 40 early hiphop and popular 106.7 kroq dance nights playing the 80’s new wave alternative music. As a result several sub genres came into effect.Playing gothic industrial synth pop.In 89 and through the early 90’s came the indie / shoegaze music scene along with new house and rave music.In mid 90 the electronic music scene of industrial came into being with bands such as vnv nation, apoptygma berzerk etc.to carry on the electronic music of the past : depeche mode, front 242, nitzer ebb etc.
    This was the only club in the inland empire as well as orange county that was formatting and playing to these genres of music all in one club via multiple rooms.People were driving in from sandiego,losangeles, orange county, and the high desert and lets not forget about all the marines from twenty nine palms who came regularly to get a piece of the club metro experience
    In 1996 dj johnny quest (john Griffin) and I (dj jedi) Michael Calabrese were hired at club metro as dj’s/ promoter to focus on the evergrowing following of all these genres. We were to carry on with the kroq promotion as well as refocus attention to the goth/industrial/synthpop scene.We had two nights a week as well as after hours on Friday nights from 2 to 4 am to spin.The only other clubs in california that were playing this music format were in losangeles.What made metro so succesful was its sheer size, the multiple rooms, and all the dj’s beforejohnny Quest and myself/dj’s lynwood,Shannon, Mark,Mr. Bubble, Raul,and chrome….forgive me if I left anyone out.
    We were asked by the owner of 2000 to bring a new image to there industrial goth scene at metro, And this is how klub empire promotion came into play.Club metro had great success with this genre and all the fans of the electronic music scene still playing the old school kroq favorites and bringing everyone together night after night, week after week, year after year.Until it’s final closing of the night club itself club metro closed it’s doors with one final blast on january 19th 2003.So after more than twenty years of great friends,cheap drinks,fantastic music spun by amazingly talented dj’s,and let’s not forget that glow in the dark green ink that would rub off everywhere toxic and addicting the sound of club metro was finally over..
    Although Quest and myself did continue with our club promotion klub empire and it was successful it was never going to be another club metro….unless it’s former owner Al would like to give it another shot. Were all ready to go..metro part two maybe?

    Quest and I were were approached by jason scamara (dj liquid sexdrive) to dj and be a part of the club metro reunion after nine years. Theres a huge desire for people to reunite for one more night of dancing to there favorite hits from the past. Jason has been involved in several succesful club promotions andromeda, skandal..so Quest and I happily agreed to be apart of it along with Mr. Bubble one of the old school original club metro dj’s.Tragically Only weeks after Johnny Quest past away in his sleep. We knew he wanted more than anything for this to happen and to continue forward. So we plan and follow through with this in his honor.Johnny Quest’s brother jason Griffin formerly of star 98.7 and X 103.9 (dj krash) will be spinning his brothers set. We all look forward to seeing everyone come back together and if you missed out on metro in the first place come out and experience club metro for one night.




  4.  
    Michael

    As a third generation Riversider who recalls Rubidoux being called West Riverside, I never went to the club, but I sure heard about the problems out there, such as many police calls. The area has improved somewhat, but since Gay and Larry’s closed, the only good thing about Rubidoux is the Flabob Airport…oh, I forgot about the Rubidoux Drive In.




  5.  
    louie

    Im sorry to hear of John, He was a good guy,one of the boys. I have many fun memories of him…. god bless, Louie




  6.  

    I was one of those Marines that came down from 29 Palms on a regular basis. I miss that club. The music played there greatly shaped my musical taste, lasting even to this day. I’ve since moved to the east coast, but visit family and friends regularly… so I’m pretty bummed out that I can’t drop in to relive some great memories.




  7.  
    DJ Rick

    I worked there as a DJ for a short time in the mid to late 80′s





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