Roseland Ballroom Is No More. Here’s Me, Not Shedding a Single Tear.

Today I read something shocking: Roseland Ballroom closed down for good last nightand people are sad about it!

I get it guys, we are all getting soft in our old age and love the nostalgic feelings we get thinking of our concert-going days of yore. But there is no way you will sucker me into a warm and fuzzy revisionist history of Roseland. (Next thing you know you will be trying to convince me that the horrible blue neon sign at Sin-e did NOT burn holes in your corneas when you accidentally looked at it.)

Look, I can’t vouch for what it was like there pre-2000, but based on my own personal memories and experiences at that place, I am pretty sure that ROSELAND BALLROOM WAS THE WORST VENUNE IN NEW YORK CITY. PERIOD. That place had horrible sight lines, terrible sound, and for some reason it always was full of mean frat boys who would spill beer on you. (Except for that one time I went to see David Gray with my friend Joe… then it was pleasantly filled with mellowed out DMB fans and lesbians.)

Do you want to know how I know this? Here are some examples from the archives re: dear ol’ Roseland:

May 2, 2006: Review of a Yeah Yeah Yeahs show:

Tonight’s Roseland show defo had more enthusiasm since many more people knew all the new songs, but the crowd was lame in that “Roselandy” way we are all too familiar. You know what I mean. Something about going to Roseland always brings out crazy dudes who just want to push little girls down to the ground. I saw two guys get into a fight as one guy was leaving. Seriously, who gets into fights just as they are about to go? Some drunk guy turned around, screamed at me and gave me a face full of his Jack and Coke scented breath as I walked out of the concert for no real reason. The wonderful Maxwell’s show it was not.

November 25, 2003: Post from the Little Room message board about a White Stripes show at Roseland:

Only towards the end did security stomp through the crowd and remove just 1 of the idiots. One poor girl had to be taken out of the crowd she was so banged up. Then during the encore, Jack announces they got 1 song left for us – It’s Boll Weevil.

They begin – and the crowd surfing has started to pick up. Jack tells Meg to stop. He says “We’ll just wait until this guy finishes (referring to a crowd surfer)”. Then he goes “So Everyone get their teenage angst out tonight?????!!!!!!” Of course he was being sarcastic but the idiots didn’t realize it. Bollweevil resumes. Then during a solo, that’s it. Jack has had enough. He throws down his guitar and leans over the stage and starts screaming at a crowd surfer. He gets back to Mic:

“I am sick of these Frat F*ckers crashing our gig! People are just trying to have a good time, not have some A**hole crash down on their neck!!!” He takes a breath. “And now the last verse, which is about myself”. And the show ends smoothly.

April 3, 2006: Describing the worst venue I’ve ever been to in the USA, the Electric Factory in Philly, in the only way I knew how:

I think it was a combo of the fact that the EF is the pit of hell (think of Roseland, but worse–luckily I was in the balcony.

So there you have it folks, I’m definitely not sorry to see that place go.

On a related note, congratulations to Terminal 5 – with Roseland no longer in the game, you now officially the worst venue in NYC!

Published by Laura

I run The Modern

4 replies on “Roseland Ballroom Is No More. Here’s Me, Not Shedding a Single Tear.”

  1. You are totally entitled to hate any venue you want, and I’m not going to say that I haven’t had bad shows at Roseland, of course I have. But I don’t think it was a function of the space itself, which I always thought was pretty cool (the crazy long wall couch, the “secret” back bar which was a godsend, the sheer number of bathroom stalls in the ladies room!) and which was rarely as packed as, say, Webster Hall tends to get (WH being my own personal 9th circle of hell with one teeny exit that scares the stuffing out of me). Also this isn’t my straight up nostalgia – I went to Roseland more last year than I had in the previous 5 years combined and I actually found myself regretting that i’d stayed away as the “refresher” proved to me that it was a WAY better venue than T5 in every way possible. As far as the collective nostalgia of New York is concerned, I think we all enjoyed rocking out in a place with the kind of history that Roseland had. I mean CBGBs was a disgusting hole in the wall, but we loved that too, right?
    Oh and I really hope that plaque with all the couples that met at Roseland winds up in a museum somewhere because it’s just awesome.

  2. @Ultra – I think when the VIP section is the only redeeming factor, it’s telling.

    @Jocelyn – I am all for celebrating the history of a venue and what it represents, but that doesn’t mean it was a well-designed space for seeing a concert. I think the venue name says it all – Roseland BALLROOM.

    From Wikipedia: “Roseland Ballroom was a multipurpose hall, in a converted ice skating rink, with a colorful ballroom dancing pedigree”

    Just because you throw concerts there doesn’t mean the space was designed to do just that.

    Roseland really only has one comparable venue of the same size – Terminal 5. As I’ve already established, both are terrible. However, design-wise, I couldn’t say that T5 is/was worse than Roseland. I think the multiple balconies are good (in theory), and the lounge areas they have set up with TVs of the show are good for people who want a more relaxed experience. For me, there was no peace at Roseland, it was just one non-stop battle against awful. The “secret” bar was great — but it was also right next to the stage, making that area crazy crowded and loud at times.

    Maybe there is something about the 3000-person capacity sweet spot that just dooms venues to be terrible. Maybe also contributing is the fact that an act has to be large and popular enough to be capable of selling 3000 tickets, which means the audience is more broad.

    However, the Theater at Madison Square Garden is somehow better, despite the fact that it fits over 5,000 people. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it is a designed THEATER, meant for people to be watching a stage. The sloped floor in the GA area greatly helps with sight lines, and the mix of seating/standing gives people options.

    I don’t find Webster Hall to be that bad. The sound IS terrible, but there are pockets of serenity within the craziness (see the far left-hand side of the venue).

    And for the record, CBGBs was in fact a disgusting venue, however the space was small, and you were able to see if you wanted to. You could also hang back on the elevated table area if you didn’t want a foot in your face. That said, I will be way more upset if Mercury Lounge ever closes down then I was when GBGBs did.

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