Party Like It’s 1989
By Bill Gerdes
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.