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Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Vintage: a personal history

The Vintage is closing at the end of August, 2014. It's not the first time it's closed, but it feels like it might be the last.

I first got involved with the Vintage in September, 2011. I was invited to take part in a "bloggers' roundtable" by Rich Howells, who was blogging and working for publication Go Lackawanna.  Back then I would normally have been reticent about such an invitation, but had just started a "say yes to everything" approach to life, so I agreed.

I was a little confused as I was heading up there. I had looked up the address ahead of time, of course, and the place wasn't where I expected it to be.  I remembered reading about the Vintage Theater when it had first opened a few years earlier, in an article in a copy of the Scranton Times someone had left in the break room. The article talked about how a brother and sister were someone was opening a new venue in the old Ritz Theater, a place where my friends and I used to go to see dollar movies in college.  I didn't remember much more, except maybe something about classic films.

In any event I found myself turning left where I would have expected to be turning right - if it hadn't been a one-way street. But there it was, right where the computer map said it would be, at 119 Penn Avenue - several blocks from the old Ritz Theater.

http://nepablogs.blogspot.com/2011/09/nepa-bloggers-roundtable.html
http://nepablogs.blogspot.com/2011/09/nepa-bloggers-roundtable-follow-up.html

(I would later learn that this was the second home for the Vintage Theater, and it had in fact originally been located in the Ritz Theater building.)

As I described in the linked post, the Bloggers' Roundtable was followed immediately by a poetry reading being put on by a group called the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writers' Collective. And the rest, as they say, is history.

http://anothermonkey.blogspot.com/2012/05/northeastern-pennsylvania-writers.html

There's a lot more to the story, of course. I didn't decide to meet with the group until a second encounter a few weeks later:

http://anothermonkey.blogspot.com/2011/10/pages-and-places-book-festival-part-1.html

My work schedule meant I wouldn't be able to attend every meeting, but I attended all that I could. Soon I found myself going up to the Vintage Theater for other events, like the BlueKey Tweetup in December 2011, the first Pecha Kucha night in NEPA in January 2012, and the first Scranton StorySlam in late March 2012. Plus the monthly Third Thursday Open Mic Poetry nights, and the occasional performance or event.

Then, on June 1, 2012, the Vintage Theater closed.

Not for good. We were assured that the Vintage Theater would be coming back someday, in some form. In the meantime the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writers' Collective found itself a new, temporary meeting place at Scranton's Northern Light coffee shop, though our performances were put on hiatus indefinitely.

The Vintage Theater came back a few months later in a new home, the old Manhattan Room bar of the old Hotel Jermyn at 326 Spruce Street. It was rechristened as The Vintage, and for a while shared space with the independently operated Morning Glory cafe. It took a while for the NEPWC to find its footing again, but after a few months of struggling we began presenting poetry to full and nearly-full houses.

And that's where we've been since then. The Vintage has continued on its mission as Scranton's premiere artspace, featuring bands and art exhibits and literary events, plays, a second Pecha Kucha night, and numerous other events.  It's been a popular place, but expensive to run.

This week, Conor O'Brien announced that the Vintage would be closing its doors again at the end of August. This time, for good.

It's not over yet, as I write this. There's a concert this Saturday, August 16. The Last Third Thursday Open Mic Poetry Night is going on next Thursday, August 21. A  music, poetry, and performance art event called velveteen will take place next Saturday, August 23.

On Saturday, August 30, there will be a farewell party. After that, the Vintage will be closed.

The Vintage has been a big part of my life these last three years. I've met a lot of amazing people because of it. Become a part of a community I might otherwise never have known existed. I've grown personally because of the things I've experienced and people I've met because of the Vintage. But now it's over.

So that's that. The Vintage will soon join the long list of places in Scranton that played a big part in the local arts, entertainment, and culture scene, had their time, and went away. Prufrock's. Cafe del Sol. The Test Pattern. Anthology. The Banshee. New Visions.

The Vintage.


1 comment:

Charles Bennett said...

Excellent Harold. chaz