Why I Won’t Mourn the Uptown Bar
I’ve heard the story from several people – the venerable Uptown Bar is closing, for good and for real, this time. I don’t make it a habit to read City Pages, so I don’t know if they have confirmed the story. Given the development going on in the neighborhood, I can’t say there is any reason to disbelieve the truth of the rumor.
Like most of my friends, acquaintances and passers-by, I have spent plenty of time at the Uptown Bar. Got smoky, sweaty and drunk with several hundred of my closet friends while seeing bands such as the Gear Daddies, Soul Asylum, Jesus Lizard, Run Westy Run, and Arcwelder there. I’ve stumbled drunk to nearby afterbar house parties, had beer spilled on me, spilled beer on others, had Sunday bloody marys and had a few awkward and unexpected moments with soon-to-be ex-girlfriends. Hell, I’ve even managed to get up on the stage for a few poetry readings or other projects. So, it’s been good to me, and it was certainly as much a part of my first decade as an adult as anywhere else.
I don’t spend much time in Uptown anymore. Especially now that I’ve stopped smoking cigars, the only reason I have to go there is for the occasional meal or movie. The fact is, most of the people I see walking around Uptown these days scare me. Maturity has brought reluctance to type people based on clothing, but it gets real hard to not see Uptown as tool central these days. There’s nothing funky, hip or cool about the place anymore. It’s overrun with condos and businesses geared toward the kind of crowds which in general swarm to places like Buckhead in Atlanta or the more grotesque parts of Boston. Whatever it is, it isn’t Minneapolis. Lake and Hennepin is more of a corporate playground than cultural center.
So, godspeed Uptown Bar. Whether you relocate or vanish completely, I say you’ll be missed, but time has moved on and so have those who made you special. Uptown is no longer worthy of your rich cultural history or the beer soaked memories your sign may inspire in those who were there, then. Vibrant cultures change or die in stagnation. Places and people have shifted and created their worlds in other places. As you leave the Uptown area, it will cement Uptown’s new identity and hopefully push the last hip hangers-on into the frontiers of the city that are both established and to-be discovered.
Minneapolis, like many cities, is built on districts, zones, neighborhoods or ghettos. I suppose the word you use for a community, like history, is based on the winners, or at least the current majority. Maybe in this case, or in this city, the names should come from the songs written about the area. Prince’s “Uptown” has faded far, far into the hues of nostalgia and myth. Sadly, but more interestingly, the Cows’ “Uptown Suckers” is more appropriate than ever.