Should we be sad about Club Jäger closing?

Club Jäger: Did events there create a sense of community?

Club Jäger: Did events there create a sense of community? Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

The Door Guy is a veteran of countless clubs around town. People say they've seen it all, but he's seen more. Write to him for everything from live advice to life advice.

Dear Door Guy:

Have you been paying attention to this whole Club Jäger thing? I am really bummed out—it was such a cool-looking room and I really enjoyed going there. I always felt a great sense of community. But I draw the line at the dude giving money to a white supremacist. There seems to be a lot of arguing about stuff on social media, like who knew, and when, and what really happened. I hope this doesn’t ruin any of the cool nights they had there, I just want to have a nice place to hang out without having to stress out!

—Just Wanna Dance!

Dear JWD!:

I’ve spent a good chunk of the summer meditating on a mountaintop because I’ve been part of the Door Guy Guild so long I honestly don’t remember a time when I felt particularly hopeful about humanity, and the utter taint-clowning shitshow that is ‘Murca 2017 hasn’t exactly improved my emotional stock portfolio. (See my last column, whenever the fuck that was.)

I’d like to say it was a fantastic transcendental experience except that it involved a lot of mosquitos, rain, and at least one beshitted looking rogue raccoon that walked right up to me and gave me an eyefuck that made me question whether Elon Musk wasn’t right when he said that our reality doesn’t even exist. Yet, I gave the old WWPSD? (What Would Patrick Swayze Do?) bracelet a couple twists and did crazy things like wake up in the daylight, and while I failed to achieve Nirvana or come to any profound epiphanies, I realized that there are plenty of questions that present reasonably simple solutions even if we as a society can’t seem to keep from turning ourselves into the proverbial unpolishable turd.

Since returning to civilization and finding my inbox at [email protected] positively overflowing with six—count em, six!—emails (two of which were probably spam but if not, no thank you on the offer of helpful hints to enlarge my dick), I’ve had to catch up pretty quickly on what happened at Club Jäger. If you were also at the top of a mountain, or living under a rock, the entire thing is laid out pretty well here and here. It’s really unbelievably simple: A) people who give money to notorious KKK members are assholes; B) this guy gave money to a notorious KKK member turned white supremacist politician; C) come-fucking-on, the math really isn’t that hard here.

Yet, as far as I can tell from the nuclear Armageddon-level mistake I made skimming the comments in those two reports and related pieces, somehow this is something that’s causing some people—those who like to use words like “libtards,” primarily—a total brain meltdown. This is unsurprising to me, as frankly, the culture of “my feelings make it fact” that righty-trolls have attached to themselves like barnacles on the good ship Mommy Never Told Me It Was Okay To Cry is not much different than some misguided soul at my place of work thinking that screaming at me is going to create any result other than a swift and uncomfortable ejection. (Guys, if you’re worried that much about your dick size, I have a couple e-mails I could forward you.) But STILL, people.

I mean, it shouldn’t be a challenge to agree on a few basic things, right? Being a decent person most of the time is better than being an asshole. Heroin remains totally dumb as fuck. So does Zombie Pub Crawl. As a rule, people getting paid more is better than people getting paid less. And—I’m shocked that we’re even struggling with this—Nazis, Klan members, and white supremacists are fucking assholes, and you shouldn’t give them your money.

Pre-mountaintop me would have taken this as just another in the endless signs of the coming Apocalypse. But I’m a new Door Guy. A more Zen Door Guy. I see rays of sunshine here. The fact that the staff walked out of Jäger makes me proud of my fellow worker bees. The strong statement (“Nazis can fuck right off”) from the board of the HUGE Theater Company—who rent their building from Herr Von Jägershits—was hilarious while also acknowledging that they have more to do in the face of being stuck in a lease with a guy they didn’t know was the devil. The mass exodus of the DJs and promoters who put on events at Jäger, too, was great—but here’s where I hit a little hitch.

There was a time in my Door Guy Life where the spaces people created in this town for cool shit were also businesses run by people invested in that cool shit. (Hell, I remember when the Twin Cities only really had three or four places you could go see a show.) The most famous and lasting institutions of the Twin Cities were and are places where the interest of the owners and managers and the interest of the patrons overlapped. Some of our many venues and hangouts are still like that, and by and large, those are the places I’ve always preferred to work.

Over the years, however, I’ve seen trends moving away from this. I’ve seen an impossible number of venues come and go in my time. I’ve seen shitty bars suddenly turn cool because a few people invested time and effort into making them a place to see live music or dance despite little or no support from the owners, and once those people burned out and moved on, they went back to being shitty bars. I’ve seen shows at places where the second the music was over I felt like there was no reason to be there. And I’ve seen places where the only priority was making money. Disappointingly, I’ve seen crowds embrace those places without a thought to whether or not the people making the money really gave a shit about them or shared their values, just as long as they got to look cool and liked the music.

So, JWD!, you’re right, Jäger was sort of cool looking. But given the choice between giving my money to someone who I know is supportive of the local music scene in any or all of its permutations vs. someone who at best doesn’t give a fuck as long as the cash rolls in and at worst uses that money to support assholes like David Duke, the choice is obvious. I could pony up two shits about what type of imported wood my bar stool is made out of. If the people doing events at Jäger really inspire the community of which you speak, I challenge them to place some value on going somewhere that’s connected to the local music community rather than some arbitrary notion of cool. There’s no reason to choose otherwise. If it’s truly a community and not just customers, they’re invested, and they will follow.

Call what happened at Jäger a learning opportunity. Pay attention to where your dollars go. Support and work with the people who give a fuck. It’s not enough to Just Wanna Dance.

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