Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve at the Capitol Theater

The Capitol Theatre lobby. (Photo courtesy of sarahrazak)

Here's a re-post from New Year's Eve last year with some good comments:
Anyone recall a New Year's Eve party at the Capitol Theater in the mid-eighties, maybe 1984 or 1985? There was an icy snowfall that night and everyone streamed out into the street afterwards, sliding all over the place. The son of a prominent Flint politician at the time "accidentally" tackled some sort of beauty pageant winner — Miss Michigan? — in the slush outside the theater. She was wearing a white dress and some kind of white fur coat. She was not happy. It's all a little blurry. I think Mark Sanford and Bill Custack were in attendance. Someone help me out here. Am I imagining all this? I hope it actually happened because it's one of the few times in my life I actually had fun on New Year's Eve, excluding my younger years when I'd excitedly sip chilled Vernor's from a Champagne glass with my mom and the rest of the family.


Cooley's Dictum said...
As subsequently memorialized in a cartoon/graphic in East Village Magazine, December 31st, 1984 was the date of the big ice storm.
Jeff said...
That was Christmas of 1984. I wasn't at the party, but we were without power and iced in for three days in Grand Blanc.
Anonymous said...
Gene Conley hosted the parties and used his profits to buy a red porsche...Very good times...as i recall, he had two parties, roughly 83 to 85 ish.....I know you could bring in your own keg, we did...there were also some good times at the capitol for the two ROMANTICS CONCERTS.....
geewhy said...
I remember the Romantics concerts. I'm pretty sure I attended both with Steve Herzog and Carole Hopkins. When I saw them the first time, I foolishly believed I was attending a punk show.
grumkin said...
I remember the New Year's Eve at the Capitol... I had always thought it was Kirt Suomela, Brian Dutil and Mike Wiley that hosted it, but Gene was friends with them too I believe... they had a Halloween party once too.

Those were the BEST parties... BYOB and everyone was there. To this day when I hear "How Soon is Now" I remember watching some Flint Public Library black and white movie that was playing that night of some guy getting hung and remembering his life.

I guess that was the Durant for our day... ;)
Sarah Swart said...
I feel sure I attended a Romantics show at the Capitol, but I don't remember it being as late as '84 (I left town in '82). I recall running into =Kevin= Dutil there. I thought I was the coolest chick in the room because I was wearing clothes I'd brought home from 'punk' England: a huge T-shirt, hem tied in a knot at my hip, with 'footless' tights. When Gillian and I lived in Pontiac, we used to run into the Romantics (or subsets of the group) when we went out dancing. And we saw them at least once after we moved to Boston. Boston =loves= What I Like About You, btw. I mean REALLY loves that song, it's used out here in far too many ads and promos.
Macy Swain said...
I'd love to see Cooley's EVM graphic from back then. Like Cooley, I'm an old geezer compared to most of you but I distinctly remember that icestorm of '84. I was 35 and living with my not-yet-lst husband in a walkup apt. on Avon Street (everybody who's anybody in Flint has lived on Avon Street sometime in his or her life) and Danny and I struggled out to a party at Prof. Paul Peterson's Tudor house on Blanchard that night. He was still married to Sue at the time. We all thought we were really something for making it to this comfy party in Flint's academic ghetto. I wasn't working at UMF yet and envied all the people at that party, who seemed much more prosperous and settled than I. Later, of course, I realized almost nobody was happy that night. It's interesting to think of all the other parties going on that same night in Flint.
Tom Wirt said...
Here are some memories of The Romantics at the Capitol:

http://flickr.com/photos/92726077@N00/2064619646/in/set-72157603297707967/
grumkin said...
ps. I don't recall any incident with Miss America... but I do recall Scott H. sitting in front of the Capitol, screaming that he'd trade a little gold nugget for a 40 oz of bud. Then again, that may have been in the summer... my time back then is a bit fuzzy...
Susank said...
There was a Romantics show at the Capitol on December 26, 1981. That was before Talking in your sleep. I still think What I like about you is one of the best dance songs ever.
Gillian Swart said...
Very true, Macy ... I also lived on Avon St., in 3 separate yet distinct old houses. Ed and Casey own (or did, last time I saw them) one of the places, next to where the elder Custers (and Ed) lived when I was there. Casey lived in the other half with Penny McMullen (it was a duplex, but the side I lived on had 2 apartments).

I think it's directly behind their house on Crapo, if they still live there. #11, maybe?

And yes, we did see Romantics members rather frequently, for a while, in Detroit. That lead singer (Wally?) was really tiny. I think all the clothes they owned must have been made of leather ...
Anonymous said...
It was definitely 1984 turning to 1985. I distinctly remember it because I was a freshman and had to beg my parents to let me go. It was the best and I wasn't even drinking. Those parties brought the very best of the Flint together: High Schoolers and collegiates, nerds and cools, city and suburbanite. I am proud that it was the brainchild of my some of my Haskell bretheren. God bless 'em.

Kathy W.
Anonymous said...
You are not imagining things GY. Jimmy Rutherford was trying to give his date a hug and remain standing at the same time, and well... I still chuckle when I see a curb full of that soupy stuff that happens when snow, rain, salt and dirt combine.
Those parties were great! The fact that they were BYOB (or keg for that matter) explains alot.
As I remember, I also got to display my 12 beer expert driving skills that night. The ice storm froze, for what seemed like forever (maybe a week), my tire tracks as I searched for the driveway. The view from any second floor window was especially good.
jim holbel said...
My recollection is that the mid-80's Capitol NYE parties were held twice, maybe 3 times. The group was a loose confederacy, led by Kirt Soumela, and by leading, I mean that Kirt staked the cash for it. He had some Engineering school co-op gigs at Buick, and was the kinda guy willing to stake 800 bucks on a party, hoping to make it back in cover charges. Many of buds were involved, Mike Wylie and Brian Dutil were prime operatives, along with others like Gene Conley and various girlfriends at the time. It was definitely Mike Wylie's idea to go multi-media and get the films from the Flint Library and show them from the balcony - he is a production designer now, so this may have been the first step toward landfing a gig like 'pushing daisies'...lol.

I was in charge of sound, and the DJ duty was rotated among the hosts - I still recall my disasterous turn at the wheels of steel, killing Kirt's favorite song (icicle works i think), while he danced with his gorgeous GF suzanne black, with me cutting to the #2 in the middle of the song when he really was giving me the 'crank it' signal. The music came straight from the record collections of the hosts. I think the final year, Rob McKenzie's band the Iodine raincoats did the gig.

The first year the Capitol was more or less unused for anything in a long while, and the rent was cheap, maybe 400 or 500 for the night. We ran amuck exploring the building ( i recall exploring the remains of a drug store and some bowling alleys???) and working with Troy to lock up places where folks shouldn't go. I think we spent 200 bucks renting amps and cabinets, plus a couple of off-duty cops to work security. I think people took turns working the door and cover was $5 that first year. I think the door was over $2K, which just seemed hilarious, to throw a wicked party, in a giant room, with a monster stereo, all your favorite records, and everyone you know and more, and make a buck on it. Kirt kicked back to just about everyone, even though it was mostly sweat equity and he was the one taking the cash risk. A cool dude.

I must admit that in retrospect, this is a great thing about Flint, there was a great DIY ethos about the place. You knew we were a town that would be passed over by the outside world, so if you wanted fun, you made it. And having a run-down downtown, some cash, intitiative, and not giving a crap about lawyers and liability, made of a hell of a night.

I think year 2, the rent got pricy, we spent more on sound, security, etc. and it was marginally profitable. I still can't recall if there was a year 3 or not. I think folks started finishing college, etc. and it faded away.

I know there eventually was a much larger captol scene in the 89+ era, but with a different set of actors.

SO yes Gordie it really happened, and Rut did have a little scene out front, I don't think it was miss MI, but sequins and slush were involved.
geewhy said...
I'm now remembering that I got the Miss Michigan idea from one of the onlookers outside the Capitol after Rut and the girl ended up in the slush. Someone said something along the lines of "Miss Michigan just wiped out."
grumkin said...
There definitely was a Halloween gig too because I distinctly recall Kevin K. dressing up as a doctor or dentist or something... no clue what I came as...

I remember we checked out the view from the roof too... so that must have been the Halloween one as well.

Those were definitely the best new year's eve parties. I think they probably stopped because of liability insurance since so many were drinking...
grumkin said...
The Halloween party was 1986, and that was the one where Rob M's band played. There was another New Year's Eve party that year too... that may have been the end after that... not sure.
Jeff Mason said...
I played drums with the Iodine Raincoats, but by the time of the Capitol gig, the bassist (Rob Rawson) and I were in a new band. We warmed up the Iodine Raincoats at the Capitol Theater. It was awesome. The first time in my life that I had a drum riser! What fond memories. Go Flint.
Anonymous said...
I have photographs from this event...
Robert said...
Kirt Suomela was definitely the main money man. There were many others involved that made the parties happen. We all set up, worked the doors, cleaned up, and I don't recall there being any arguments about money.

My band, the Iodine Raincoats did play the second party. I have a great story. Weeks prior to the party I asked a girl out and she said no. Alright, nothing new, but she saw me on stage at the Capitol theater party and came backstage and offered herself to me. I turned her down (What an ass I was.). I told her she had had her chance, and now I had moved on. It was either the coolest thing I've ever done, or the stupidest (I tend to think the latter).

I remember the funnest thing about those parties was exploring the facility, and worrying about the risk. After the party, a bag full of musical equipment was stolen in our loadout. Kirt made a thousand or so, and I lost the same. It was still fun. Email me at robertpmckenzie@gmail.com.
Kris said...
Erik & I went with Denise & Jen in the 1959 caddie, John & Cammie rode with us (Hi Cam)... it was the best New Year ever. We all stayed over at Lisa's house that night.
We all brought out our boxed & imported vinyl.
In setting up the party, we got the stars in the dome ceiling to light up.
Kris

25 comments:

  1. As subsequently memorialized in a cartoon/graphic in East Village Magazine, December 31st, 1984 was the date of the big ice storm.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That was Christmas of 1984. I wasn't at the party, but we were without power and iced in for three days in Grand Blanc.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gene Conley hosted the parties and used his profits to buy a red porsche...Very good times...as i recall, he had two parties, roughly 83 to 85 ish.....I know you could bring in your own keg, we did...there were also some good times at the capitol for the two ROMANTICS CONCERTS.....

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember the Romantics concerts. I'm pretty sure I attended both with Steve Herzog and Carole Hopkins. When I saw them the first time, I foolishly believed I was attending a punk show.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I remember the New Year's Eve at the Capitol... I had always thought it was Kirt Suomela, Brian Dutil and Mike Wiley that hosted it, but Gene was friends with them too I believe... they had a Halloween party once too.

    Those were the BEST parties... BYOB and everyone was there. To this day when I hear "How Soon is Now" I remember watching some Flint Public Library black and white movie that was playing that night of some guy getting hung and remembering his life.

    I guess that was the Durant for our day... ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I feel sure I attended a Romantics show at the Capitol, but I don't remember it being as late as '84 (I left town in '82). I recall running into =Kevin= Dutil there. I thought I was the coolest chick in the room because I was wearing clothes I'd brought home from 'punk' England: a huge T-shirt, hem tied in a knot at my hip, with 'footless' tights. When Gillian and I lived in Pontiac, we used to run into the Romantics (or subsets of the group) when we went out dancing. And we saw them at least once after we moved to Boston. Boston =loves= What I Like About You, btw. I mean REALLY loves that song, it's used out here in far too many ads and promos.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd love to see Cooley's EVM graphic from back then. Like Cooley, I'm an old geezer compared to most of you but I distinctly remember that icestorm of '84. I was 35 and living with my not-yet-lst husband in a walkup apt. on Avon Street (everybody who's anybody in Flint has lived on Avon Street sometime in his or her life) and Danny and I struggled out to a party at Prof. Paul Peterson's Tudor house on Blanchard that night. He was still married to Sue at the time. We all thought we were really something for making it to this comfy party in Flint's academic ghetto. I wasn't working at UMF yet and envied all the people at that party, who seemed much more prosperous and settled than I. Later, of course, I realized almost nobody was happy that night. It's interesting to think of all the other parties going on that same night in Flint.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Here are some memories of The Romantics at the Capitol:

    http://flickr.com/photos/92726077@N00/2064619646/in/set-72157603297707967/

    ReplyDelete
  9. ps. I don't recall any incident with Miss America... but I do recall Scott H. sitting in front of the Capitol, screaming that he'd trade a little gold nugget for a 40 oz of bud. Then again, that may have been in the summer... my time back then is a bit fuzzy...

    ReplyDelete
  10. There was a Romantics show at the Capitol on December 26, 1981. That was before Talking in your sleep. I still think What I like about you is one of the best dance songs ever.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very true, Macy ... I also lived on Avon St., in 3 separate yet distinct old houses. Ed and Casey own (or did, last time I saw them) one of the places, next to where the elder Custers (and Ed) lived when I was there. Casey lived in the other half with Penny McMullen (it was a duplex, but the side I lived on had 2 apartments).

    I think it's directly behind their house on Crapo, if they still live there. #11, maybe?

    And yes, we did see Romantics members rather frequently, for a while, in Detroit. That lead singer (Wally?) was really tiny. I think all the clothes they owned must have been made of leather ...

    ReplyDelete
  12. It was definitely 1984 turning to 1985. I distinctly remember it because I was a freshman and had to beg my parents to let me go. It was the best and I wasn't even drinking. Those parties brought the very best of the Flint together: High Schoolers and collegiates, nerds and cools, city and suburbanite. I am proud that it was the brainchild of my some of my Haskell bretheren. God bless 'em.

    Kathy W.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You are not imagining things GY. Jimmy Rutherford was trying to give his date a hug and remain standing at the same time, and well... I still chuckle when I see a curb full of that soupy stuff that happens when snow, rain, salt and dirt combine.
    Those parties were great! The fact that they were BYOB (or keg for that matter) explains alot.
    As I remember, I also got to display my 12 beer expert driving skills that night. The ice storm froze, for what seemed like forever (maybe a week), my tire tracks as I searched for the driveway. The view from any second floor window was especially good.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My recollection is that the mid-80's Capitol NYE parties were held twice, maybe 3 times. The group was a loose confederacy, led by Kirt Soumela, and by leading, I mean that Kirt staked the cash for it. He had some Engineering school co-op gigs at Buick, and was the kinda guy willing to stake 800 bucks on a party, hoping to make it back in cover charges. Many of buds were involved, Mike Wylie and Brian Dutil were prime operatives, along with others like Gene Conley and various girlfriends at the time. It was definitely Mike Wylie's idea to go multi-media and get the films from the Flint Library and show them from the balcony - he is a production designer now, so this may have been the first step toward landfing a gig like 'pushing daisies'...lol.

    I was in charge of sound, and the DJ duty was rotated among the hosts - I still recall my disasterous turn at the wheels of steel, killing Kirt's favorite song (icicle works i think), while he danced with his gorgeous GF suzanne black, with me cutting to the #2 in the middle of the song when he really was giving me the 'crank it' signal. The music came straight from the record collections of the hosts. I think the final year, Rob McKenzie's band the Iodine raincoats did the gig.

    The first year the Capitol was more or less unused for anything in a long while, and the rent was cheap, maybe 400 or 500 for the night. We ran amuck exploring the building ( i recall exploring the remains of a drug store and some bowling alleys???) and working with Troy to lock up places where folks shouldn't go. I think we spent 200 bucks renting amps and cabinets, plus a couple of off-duty cops to work security. I think people took turns working the door and cover was $5 that first year. I think the door was over $2K, which just seemed hilarious, to throw a wicked party, in a giant room, with a monster stereo, all your favorite records, and everyone you know and more, and make a buck on it. Kirt kicked back to just about everyone, even though it was mostly sweat equity and he was the one taking the cash risk. A cool dude.

    I must admit that in retrospect, this is a great thing about Flint, there was a great DIY ethos about the place. You knew we were a town that would be passed over by the outside world, so if you wanted fun, you made it. And having a run-down downtown, some cash, intitiative, and not giving a crap about lawyers and liability, made of a hell of a night.

    I think year 2, the rent got pricy, we spent more on sound, security, etc. and it was marginally profitable. I still can't recall if there was a year 3 or not. I think folks started finishing college, etc. and it faded away.

    I know there eventually was a much larger captol scene in the 89+ era, but with a different set of actors.

    SO yes Gordie it really happened, and Rut did have a little scene out front, I don't think it was miss MI, but sequins and slush were involved.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm now remembering that I got the Miss Michigan idea from one of the onlookers outside the Capitol after Rut and the girl ended up in the slush. Someone said something along the lines of "Miss Michigan just wiped out."

    ReplyDelete
  16. There definitely was a Halloween gig too because I distinctly recall Kevin K. dressing up as a doctor or dentist or something... no clue what I came as...

    I remember we checked out the view from the roof too... so that must have been the Halloween one as well.

    Those were definitely the best new year's eve parties. I think they probably stopped because of liability insurance since so many were drinking...

    ReplyDelete
  17. The Halloween party was 1986, and that was the one where Rob M's band played. There was another New Year's Eve party that year too... that may have been the end after that... not sure.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I played drums with the Iodine Raincoats, but by the time of the Capitol gig, the bassist (Rob Rawson) and I were in a new band. We warmed up the Iodine Raincoats at the Capitol Theater. It was awesome. The first time in my life that I had a drum riser! What fond memories. Go Flint.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have photographs from this event...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Kirt Suomela was definitely the main money man. There were many others involved that made the parties happen. We all set up, worked the doors, cleaned up, and I don't recall there being any arguments about money.

    My band, the Iodine Raincoats did play the second party. I have a great story. Weeks prior to the party I asked a girl out and she said no. Alright, nothing new, but she saw me on stage at the Capitol theater party and came backstage and offered herself to me. I turned her down (What an ass I was.). I told her she had had her chance, and now I had moved on. It was either the coolest thing I've ever done, or the stupidest (I tend to think the latter).

    I remember the funnest thing about those parties was exploring the facility, and worrying about the risk. After the party, a bag full of musical equipment was stolen in our loadout. Kirt made a thousand or so, and I lost the same. It was still fun. Email me at robertpmckenzie@gmail.com.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Erik & I went with Denise & Jen in the 1959 caddie, John & Cammie rode with us (Hi Cam)... it was the best New Year ever. We all stayed over at Lisa's house that night.
    We all brought out our boxed & imported vinyl.
    In setting up the party, we got the stars in the dome ceiling to light up.
    Kris

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ha!!

    This is Gene Conley

    I've read some of the post and most is accurate to a degree.

    I still have the flyers for the parties; I've kept them all these years. I found flyers for July 3rd 1987, October 31st 1986, and August 23, 1985. If anyone would want a copy, let me know, I’ll scan them and send them out. If Bob McKenzie ever reads this, I have his backstage passes and his flyers advertising his band. The artwork was designed by Dan Giampetroni, who was a great sketch artist. The July party was the last one. Kurt and the boys indeed did the first one, I believe in ’85 or ’84 and it was a DJ only party I think. That party was the only one Kurt was associated with, however, he did attend the others. I fronted the money for the other parties. The problem with all good things was the more successful each party got, the more hands got in the till. It became cost prohibitive at the last party and I actually lost money. Insurance, bands, security, rent all increased exponentially and I was forced to stop.
    gene.conley@verizon.net

    ReplyDelete
  23. I remember a few things happening at the Capitol:

    In January/February 1990, someone showed Rocky Horror there. Saved me a trip to the Lakesise Mall to get my fix. I almost got tossed out for rushing the screen to grope Janet during "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me."

    In July 1990, I saw the Rugby Mothers do a show there.

    In November 1990, the Sunday after thanksgiving, the Go-Go's played a show there for their reunion tour/PETA fundraiser. One of the best concerts I've ever seen.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I remember the punk shows in the basement of the capitol in the 80s. Quite the experience. Especially the lack of proper plumbing in the bathrooms and everyone just did their thing in the overflowed toilets, on the floor, in the alley ...

    ReplyDelete

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