Confessions of a Traveler: Cain's Ballroom

January 4, 2010

As with many other Chuck Taylor-wearers, Aric is a bit of a music fan, and he traces this passion back to his experiences at a venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma...

Dear [Members of the Band],

I am so sorry I blanked on your name.

You were right there backstage, waiting to hear your thousand-plus fans go crazy on that famed spring-loaded dance floor, and instead, the guy bringing you on blanks on your name.

I’m really sorry.

I know you probably couldn’t see me, but I did somehow managed to stretch both arms out to the audience and act as if I wanted them to introduce you, and a few of them shouted “Yeahhhhhhh!!!!” But the sick look on my pale face probably gave me away.

It’s not like I didn’t know who you were – you guys were good.

What you weren’t were a band I should have forgotten the name to.

But I did.

Because of where I was standing.

And I’m sorry.

But I was onstage at Cain’s Ballroom.

THE Cain’s Ballroom.

And this was downtown Tulsa.

Does that mean anything to you? Probably not.

See, when you grow up in a place like Oklahoma, the thought of ever catching a gig at CBGB’s in New York City or The Fillmore West in San Francisco seems downright impossible, but what Cain’s did was go to those places and then bring them to us.

It became our enabler, our secret, our teacher – the location we loved going to but not one we wanted to talk about to just anyone less it become mainstream. It was the Aunt that buys you cake and let’s you stay up late watching scary movies, but only if you promise not to tell you parents.

See, it was there I had seen bands frowned upon by my strict upbringing.

It was there where a mowhawked bass-playing punk from England put his hand through a wall.

It was there where a nicely dressed quirky tall man introduced us all to something called ‘New Wave’.

It was there where we first head about the tragic death of a musical visionary.

It was there where we watched another Englishman, this one immaculately dressed, who seemed to moan in all of his songs, but we didn’t care.

And it was there when I realized I wanted to become a radio disc jockey, so that I could come here for free and maybe even meet the bands.

So you can understand why I might have blanked.

I’m still really sorry.

I just didn’t know if you knew what a historical place they were playing in.

And even if you did, I still thought you’d be pissed at me for forgetting your name.

But this was Cain’s Ballroom!

Did the tour manager tell you about this place?

We’re talking a place that goes back to 1924 – 1924!!

It has been everything from an old speakeasy to a dance hall.

Even during the depression, the old floors would see more than a thousand pair of boots in one night.

To hear of bands, just like you, going hours out of out their way to play one night was normal.

And to us kids, growing up with tall moral fences and limited choice in entertainment, it was THE place to be.

Even when we were too young to get in, we’d sit across the street and strain our necks and ears every time that big front door would open.

This place is what rescued me from an adolescence of boredom.

This place was where I took Kate, a girl who I had a crush on all through high school, to a show and she kissed me.

[She ended up dumping me for a jock, but it was still a great kiss.]

This place was the gateway to all things happening in the world for us.

And this is why I temporarily forgot your name.

And I’m really sorry about that.

But hopefully, now, you can kind of understand.

Where in the world is Aric? To find out, check out www.aricwithana.com

Comments (11)
  • Kris This is my favorite. [and I never say that about anything other than music] Fri Dec 17, 2010
  • JD Brilliant piece Aric. Cain's is unlike any place I've seen. I've been fortunate enough to see some of the best when it comes to concerts in mega venues across the country...Yet it's the shows at CB that still hold the strongest memories in my head whether it be Willie, G Love, The Bosstones, and even Snoop. Wed Jan 13, 2010
  • aric s. queen Robin - I think you said it best: ' It helped me, a silly punk, understand and appreciate country, swing, even ballroom!' that is Cain's to all of us. LeslieW - trust Cain's is still goin' strong...with, I might add, a steady supply of Rev. Horton Heat every once-and-a-while [which if important, you know]. Jason - ...and Bob Wills + Texas Playboys. nice. Sarah - that's cold. Christine - thanks! Wed Jan 06, 2010
  • Confessions of a Traveler: Cain’s Ballroom | Cain's Ballroom [...] Confessions of a Traveler: Cain’s Ballrom Aric S. Queen is not like the rest of us. And that’s a good thing. A decade of global criss-crossing has introduced Aric to far-flung corners of the world, and along the way he has met some wild people and gathered some very unique stories. As with many other Chuck-wearers, Aric is a bit of a music fan, and he traces this passion back to his experiences at a venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma… Dear [Members of the Band], I am so sorry I blanked on your name. You were right there backstage, waiting to hear your thousand-plus fans go crazy on that famed spring-loaded dance floor, and instead, the guy bringing you on blanks on your name. I’m really sorry. To continue reading click here [...] Wed Jan 06, 2010
  • Christine Dear Aric, I'm so sorry for all the times in your life people spelled your name with an E. Keep telling the stories though. You're pretty damn good at it. Christine Wed Jan 06, 2010
  • Sarah Dear [Writer], I am so sorry I blanked on your name. How does it feel now????? Tue Jan 05, 2010
  • Jason Cain's is a great place to be. We Tulsans have been given an opportunity to see some truly great acts in that little place... Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys to G Love and the Special Sauce. And Aric, at the risk of tarnishing your globetrotting/hipster image... you, mon frere, WERE a jock. Great story! Tue Jan 05, 2010
  • LeslieW In Long Beach we had Fender's Ballroom and this little dive in a mini mall named Bogarts. Sure we braved the big clubs in LA and Hollywood but nothing could compare to the shows I shared with my friends close to home in these two places. Sadly both clubs closed many years ago. How wonderful it is that Cain's is still rocking! Tue Jan 05, 2010
  • Robin My favorite part of Cain's is the smash-up; so many different types of people and music fans all brought together in one spot. It helped me, a silly punk, understand and appreciate country, swing, even ballroom! Ok, maybe not ballroom, but the point is that it's hallowed ground to many generations of music fans. I remember being giddy driving all the way from Oklahoma City to see bands there, as well! Write on, Aric! Tue Jan 05, 2010
  • aric s. queen Layla - can't tell you how relieved I am to have a fellow Okie on here. you know how it is. Tue Jan 05, 2010
  • Layla I live in Tulsa. The Cain's Ballroom is THE place to be!! Its awesome for concerts. We dance our hearts away on that old wooden floor. I love it. Mon Jan 04, 2010
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