Farewell to the New

A beacon of acceptance goes dark in Edmonton’s core

With the news that New City will be shutting its doors at the end of October, and falling under the wrecking ball not long after, downtown took a blow that might be more serious than most are willing to admit. New City may have had some issues as a live music venue—namely that it would go through sporadic periods of activity followed by long droughts (both upstairs and down) and that it maybe leaned on old punk and hardcore bands a bit heavy—but as a downtown event hub, it was a fantastic spot: it's one of the few places where you could find crowds gathering any night of the week, whether it was fishnet-and-eyeliner goths or leather jacket punks or shaggy hipsters.

New City has always had something of a disparate crowd, but the one thing that unified all those groups was that they were never any trouble for the neighbours (not that, post 6 pm, New City really has many neighbours as such). Still, where some other downtown bars need a constant police presence and have plenty of patrons who treat the surrounding streets as public latrines, New City's crowd was always pretty content to leave the mischief and mayhem on the dance floor, despite attracting some subcultures who have rougher reputations than slicked-up bar stars.

As we start to bring some life into downtown, it would be worth paying attention to the fact that not all nightlife is created equal. The problems caused by certain establishments can sometimes be overstated by some folks who don't seem to want anybody on the streets past dark, but it really only takes one trip past the front of some of these establishments to see which ones manage to keep their patrons under control. Bars and clubs that lean towards live music, offer a resto-pub experience or focus on diverse or niche club nights tend to attract people looking for a good time and not much else; meat-market dance clubs seem to be stocked almost exclusively with people who are looking to fuck or fight, unless they get so drunk they end up puking in the alley instead. As downtown enters a new phase of life, I hope the cities we build more closely remember the New. V

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