I attended a semi-regular meeting of working pros this evening, mostly writers with a few directors and probably some other specialists sprinkled around as well. I spent most of my time talking with only four other people, and met a kindred spirit with respect to the pinnacle of television that was the prematurely extinct “Futurama”. One director wanted to read my stuff, which I always appreciate.

The highlight of the evening, however, was a glimmer from the deep, dark past.

I was one of the first to arrive, and as I waited at the bar for two loonies to feed the meter, I noticed a woman paying for her glass of wine. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her.

I fed the meter and returned to find this woman sitting in our then little group of five. She said her name was Alana, and I told her I was sure I knew her from somewhere. I assumed she was Jewish, and I was right, and so I focused on that aspect but I could make no connection. She is six years younger than me, so school or camp wouldn’t link us.

Later in the evening, as I spoke with two other writers, my mind suddenly locked on to where I knew Alana from. When she came back to our corner, “Thunderdome, right?” I asked, “You used to go to Thunderdome?”

Thunderdome was a club in Montreal in the mid to late 1980s run by Pat, a man who would later become a close friend. It was the only place I ever went when I was in town then, always two and sometimes three nights a week. To call it a goth/alternative/dance club is to risk conjuring a cliche, but that’s the genre. The Cult, the Cure, Sisters of Mercy, New Order, Depeche Mode… all the stuff I still listen to, but I don’t have cages to dance in. People of a certain age still speak of that club in reverence.

Alana also spent a lot of time there. I was right. I doubt I ever said a word to her those 17 or so years ago, but I can recall a dress she used to wear with long sleeves and a short skirt. She sort of remembered it. I think I freaked her out a bit.

We spent the next quarter hour talking about cool clubs from that era. By the way, if anyone privy to our conversation remembers discussing the club on St. Hubert we couldn’t name, it was Alcatraz.

18 thoughts on “Shmoozefest

  1. For some reason I had the notion to Google Thunderdome and I came across your blog.
    I used to practically live at the Dome and afterwards, Alcatraz. I used to also hang out at Mars and La Nausee.
    Fun times.
    Every once in awhile I wonder what ever happened to some of the regulars who used to go there.

    Hey, maybe we used to know eachother though I’m not sure i’d remember, it being so long ago and my memories kind of hazy;)

  2. Shoshana,

    A few people have come here through a Google search for Thunderdome. There’s just nothing else like it. Sometimes I have a pipe dream of starting up an ’80s/’90s alternative club for us 30-40-somethings, but then I realize I’m not stupid.

    I went to Alcatraz a lot, too. Not so much Mars or La Nausee. I was friends with Patrick, who was manager of those places, and I followed him to his next clubs, Sheewaz and Pool Pub on Pine near St-Laurent. I lived on Duluth, so it was an easy walk, too.

    Maybe we did used to know each other. I might recognize you, too, like I did Alana.

  3. It would be fun if someone did a theme type night though at a club, like the Sphinx did a few years ago. I used to go there sometimes on Friday nights and see quite a few of us old folks from back in the day.

    Who did you hang out with back then? Maybe i’ll recognize some names.

  4. Patrick Mercier (manager)
    Jonathan Ginter (sometime coat-check)
    Richard Rubini (owner of Pool Pub, maybe others, too)
    Peter Barnes
    Bram Gross
    Dave Lazar
    Dan Brisson
    Marta Cepek
    Andy Gural
    Meni something
    Virginia Gonzalez

  5. Well, I know most of those names….
    I had a band with Pat, Richard and Jonathan; we practiced at Sheewaz before opening time.
    Dan Brisson use to go out with Marta.
    I married Marta 3 years ago.
    And I hung around Thunderdome and Mars with Roger, Yvan and others.
    Pat was doing the bar, so was Luc, who followed Pat pretty much everywhere. The trip ended at Alcatraz, when I moved to the States. But I obviously came back!

    Good times and great memories.

  6. Another x-domer here. I also had a show on CKUT that played the music of the day: garden of delights. odd the things you google sometimes. I remember a Shoshana-a friend of Eric’s.

  7. I used to first hang out then work there doing the door. My name is Yves
    Charpentier and I also knew PAt welll as well as nmost ofg those names there. I also hung out with Tommy ( tall black rockabilly there) Nice to hear from fellow clubbers from that era. I also hung out at Sphinx, Alcatraz, worked briefly at MArs.
    So many good time i can”t count

  8. Ahh what memories. I last ran into Tommy at GoGo Lounge on St. Laurent (I think) about 5 years ago.

    And I lived at Thunderdome – I still have money from Jello Wrestling and flyers ….

    and sweet memories of Alcatraz (pre-fire), Sheewaz, Mars and so much more.

    It was such a great trip…


  9. Wow….j’allais aussi au bar sheewaz dans le temps ainsi qu’au pool pub, mes 2 bars favoris. Il y a eu aussi le soundgarden ….Mais j’avoue qu’avant j’allais à l’alcatraz, pour écouter la musique industriel ou bien regarder un film….cétait le bon temps.
    Maudit qui êtes-vous ??? Est-ce qu’il y en a qui sort encore à un endroit spécifique de Montréal…avec l’ancienne gang. Contactez-moi svp…

  10. Oh my god! Here you are all!!! Quand je lis vos posts j'ai plein de souvenirs… The old gang! Thunderdome, Alcatraz, Mars, Sheewaz, PoolPub, Soundgarden, Sooo funny to read all those names… Except for Patrick Mercier which I see every weeks or so… and sometimes Barnes and Dan (but not since maybe 2 years now…!) Que de souvenirs…. tous très bons!

  11. OMG !!!!
    I worked at Thunderdome 21 years ago. Started on the cleaning crew (yeah, cleaned all that jello with shovels !!! LoL !)and also worked with Paul and Patrick on the decor team – remember it used to change every month or so -. I really miss that place ! I went on to work at Alcatraz (coat check)for a few months just before a shooting occured at Thunderdome.
    I really miss it: The Chameleons UK, the Mission, Pete Shelley, SOM, Ministry, Bauhaus,The Cure and so on … It was a unique place.
    Pour ceux qui sont nostalgiques des ces années fastes: le Passeport (St-Denis/Ontario)fait quelques soirées thématiques par année: Goth Days – musique des années ’80 jusqu’à 2000.J’y suis aller l’automne dernier. Que de souvenirs! Dans un endroit beaucoup plus petit par contre. N’empêche, l’ambiance y était.
    All this ’cause I googled Thunderdome ! Si quelqu’un se rappelle d’une certaine Annick aux cheveux roux …

  12. The very first time I entered that club, the Beach Party was on, and I checked my shoes and walked about in white sand barefoot.

    I fit nowhere else in school, life, or broader society. I knew no-one in that place except for Patrick (we called eachother Asshole, if you’re reading this)

    I didn’t belong, or not belong – I was just there. And nobody bothered me. I looked weird, was weird, and so was everyone else.

    Privacy in public.

    An utter dweeb all the way through school, a misfit – I found a style, and a sound, and an aesthetic all my own.

    Every now and again I wear black, and whenever I do, I cannot fail to remember how many litres of sweat I poured out of my body in that place in exorcism. Dance like a demon, in the cages and the smoke and the fog and the strobes.

    Mensch, I’m still there…

    I’m grateful to have seen ‘goth’ before it was called that. It really had to be experienced to be understood.

    Thanks for the memories.

  13. You folks have all heard of the two Thunderdome reunion parties that have happened in the last year, right? If not, search my blog for more info.

  14. So cool to find this! I live in Vancouver now (and I don’t really party anymore!!) but every so often (when I tell people about the best city in Canada!) Thunderdome crosses my mind. I think we used to go to the 3rd floor?? There were ramps and walkways? (It was a LONG time ago, & I was pretty loaded)

  15. I hung out at The Thunderdome back in 87-88, I knew Tommy, Alex, Fritz the doorman. I remember the red couches and the big screen watching cartoons. I would get there at 3 when it opened and stayed till closing. I loved it there. I am still upset today about the closing of the place, when they opened the upstairs and then somebody got shot.The prices were great, and every night there was something different.

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