Live music is back at the venue formally known as the Patio. For whatever reason, there’s still a little bit of resistance to the concept of Indy’s new Spin Nightclub (www.myspace.com/spinindy) from local scenesters. It’s almost as if your significant other left, only to come back expecting all to be as it was before. I know. I felt it too before I stepped back into the venue formally known as the Patio.
But once inside, it was like going back to my boyhood bedroom. All the psychic energy was still there, and soon, if general manager Gideon Navarro has his way, we will forgive and forget all about this rock and roll queen’s stint with cigar-smoking conservatives who wanted to hear bad Billy Joel songs.
Through the years, the Patio was a steadfast pillar within the Indianapolis rock community. Bands like Nirvana, Tad and Smashing Pumpkins played there before anyone knew who they were. Local bands like the Rastabilly Rebels, Toxic Reasons and Birdmen of Alcatraz built up the biggest part of their respective legends through barnstorming performances at the club. For the better part of two decades, anybody who wanted to be anybody in rock music in this town had to play the Patio. Then, at the end of 2005, it was suddenly announced that the Patio was closing to be turned into a piano bar known as Rouge.
It was a seismic shock on a scale with the closing of CBGB in New York. Hundreds, if not thousands, of local music fans came out to pay their respects during the last few shows, and with a final performance by Otis Gibbs, the club was no more. Enter Navarro, who worked at the Patio from 1992–’95 as a doorman and waiter before moving over to the Vogue. In March of last year, he became general manager at Rouge. “That was a little painful,” he says. However, within a matter of months, the piano bar fizzled out, and Navarro immediately tried to get live rock back into the room. A few ups and downs followed as he was fired, the bar was sold and the new owner, Todd Johnson, rehired Navarro as the general manager of the newly rechristened Spin Nightclub.
I spoke to Navarro when I recently visited the club. It was my first time back since the Patio’s closing. A positive, upbeat guy who genuinely loves music, Navarro showed me how he had put the old graffiti-covered walls back up in the band room (man, the stories that little room could tell!) and told me of plans to paint the place back to black — a more rock ’n’ roll color. But mainly, he was excited to bring live rock music back to Broad Ripple on a regular basis with the leadership of Johnson.
“Indy needs a boost to its music scene,” Navarro says. “There are dance places all over. I am hoping to help in creating resurgence in the live music scene in Indy.”
Even though he says he wants to bring back that old Patio “feel” to the bar, he wants to do something with a different “Spin.” His modus operandi seems to follow what made the room so successful in the past: inviting hip, breaking national touring bands, cultivating the crop of local original bands and giving them a chance to build an audience.
Right now, Navarro’s biggest hurdle is getting the message out to those heart-broken souls who feel betrayed by the Patio’s short-lived dalliance with commercialism. “This is a great rock and roll room,” Navarro says. “It’s still the same as it ever was; it just has a new name. I thank everyone that has given Spin Nightclub a chance. But if you still can’t get yourself to come into the ‘old Patio,’ at least get off your butt and support the bands trying to keep live music going in Indy!”