Ballad of the Sad Café

With a Change in Management and Clientele, an Underground Dance-Music Mecca Enters a New Age

Since then, things seem to have quieted down for the café. Beat officer Troy Schoenberger reports a reduction in the number of complaints since [Fusion] changed to Astro. Specifically, there were 68 calls made to the police in 2000 to report incidents at the address (which mostly included assaults, suspicious people, and a few narcotics violations) and 29 after the management switch in 2001. As far as former council member Jim Niland can tell, however, Fusion's initial shutdown was a result of financial duress. "The neighborhood just wants to see a good owner or operator in there to run a nice neighborhood coffee shop," he says.

That's certainly the route Astro appears to be taking. In fact, the only trace of the former underground playpen that remains can be seen in the foyer's stacks of party flyers, or in the musky (and according to Bohman, haunted) basement that used to house a gun store/shooting gallery. A pair of unmanned turntables lies in a lonely corner near a few ratty couches. When the busy decks and the notorious Fusion name disappeared, so did the raver crowd to which the hot spot catered.

"They walk in here now as if they've just stepped into their friend's parents' house," Bohman laughs. Since Bohman is a DJ who was central to the scene that walked out after the café's transition, this fact seems to disturb him. But he still has plans to develop the space with a herd of computers supplied with music programs to target "the producer crowd."

Sign of the times: Astrologer-cum-café manager Kurt Bohman
Michael Dvorak
Sign of the times: Astrologer-cum-café manager Kurt Bohman

Since the all-around death of the underground rave and surge of sanctioned club events, the semi-secret hideaway that was Café Fusion might have been obsolete today in any case. Instead of making the trek from Suburbia to Minneapolis to get their hands on flyers, kids rely on the Internet (often for information. And when they can indulge in sensory gluttony and see the likes of their favorite DJs at a nice clean club like Astro instead of a basement like Fusion, it's no wonder the general raver massive seemed to just shrug their collective shoulders at Fusion's shutdown.

And if Astro's not popular enough with the ravers, it might instead cater to the new-age crowd. Bohman has brought his interest in astrology to Astro, and he never fails to greet every customer with his or her horoscope. If given a birth date and time, the eccentric Aries will type away on the computer adjacent to the cash register and--like Madame Cleo without the fake accent or 'do-rag--bestow his insights upon the customer. The café was never about coffee anyway.

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