Sunday, May 13

End of an era

Raiford's Hollywood is closing. Again and again people keep saying this is the end of an era.

I can't really speak to that, as I've not been in Memphis long enough to talk about eras, but I do know that I regret not making it back to Raiford's after my initial visit soon after I first moved here. (I can't find the effing post about it, but it's an emotional mess. That I remember. Yikes, that first year was rough. I think I cried in the car an average of five times a day.)

My interest in Raiford's is purely selfish; it's kitsch to me. That probably makes me sound like an asshole to those of you with pure souls. Fair enough. But that's not to say I look down on Raiford's. It's just not my scene. (My scene involves my living room, a glass of wine, and a book.) I don't drink beer and I don't dance. (I am not, however, Baptist.) Yet it is a scene I find fascinating. So I had intended to make it back down there to take some photographs. Lucky for me, there are photos on Flickr here. Because I won't get that chance to take my own now that I procrastinated so long.

If you never got the chance to make it out to Raiford's, here's what you missed: Acrylic floor tiles, smoke machines, a mix of college-age Greeks and middle-aged exhibitionists, white leather couches, feathers, glitter, stripper poles, pimp-suited door greeters, outlandish cover charges, 40s and plastic cups, disco lights, and hilarious voiceovers by the man himself:

A little nugget of Memphis culture has just been buried.

SUPER-SONIC INSTANT UPDATE: And where else but Raiford's could you make this kind of hottt missed connection? (Sorry, I'm kind of obsessed with the Memphis Craigslist personals lately; they are so unbelievably awesome. That is, if you wait months between checking them, so there are plenty to read. Otherwise it's slim pickins.)

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Anonymous Lesley said...

I started going to Raiford's in the mid-90s when there were far more black folks in there than white folks. I was a regular through the end of 1998 when I finished grad school and moved to Nashville (the first time). Good times for many years.

Then, I moved back to Memphis in late 2000 and, naturally I wanted to go back to Raiford's. Holy hell. The place had been "renovated" and most of the crowd consisted of Mississippi rednecks. I mean, I saw cowboy hats and Wranglers! At Raiford's! I never went back. And then when I heard that some of my mom's friends liked to go there, I knew it was gone for good.

I've heard my mom talk about Ernestine & Hazel's, too. Let's hope it can still be saved.

Sun May 13, 05:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like South Main NEEDs more Condos...Raiford's will be missed as it added a layer of funk to South Main that is being stripped by the day as more developers gobble up those old buildings. Not against progress and South Main sho is more fun now than it was 20 years ago when the only thing there was the Arcade and, well, the Arcade (waaay before E & H became a cool place to go it was an, um, Hoe house...) but it is sad to see Raiford's Hollywood Disco be no mo!

Sun May 13, 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops. That is HO not Hoe...although they were getting "dirty" in that place....

Sun May 13, 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Lesley, sounds like you hit it in its heyday. I am ashamed to admit I've still never been to E&H, but i know for sure I'm going in the next couple of weeks.

Anon, yeah, it seems to me that the empty condos need to be filled before more are made. Too bad Raiford didn't just pass the torch to some other funky soul, rather than snuff it out completely. Oh well.

Mon May 14, 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger sarah saint said...

Sucks. I love that place. I was there a few weeks ago. Good times. I'm incapable of longer sentences today. Simple caveman sentence.

Tue May 15, 04:34:00 PM  

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