At 21 years previous, The 700 is lastly of age to purchase its first drink, however it might quickly be promoting its final in Philadelphia.
The bar on the nook of Second and Fairmount streets, a dance club and soccer hang-out that helped outline the transformation of Northern Liberties, was listed for sale in late November. A greenback for each sweaty reminiscence — or one for each mistake forgotten — can be a lot to snap it up for $1.35 million.
House owners Tracy Stanton and Kurt Wunder made the troublesome choice to promote as a end result of Wunder’s current most cancers analysis. Their relationship dates again to the times of Previous Metropolis’s former Khyber Cross venue, the place they labored collectively as sound engineer and bartender throughout that bar’s early 90 heyday.
“I literally saw a tumbleweed in Northern Liberties in 1997,” Stanton, 47, stated of the yr his bar opened.
The constructing, although it had a gap within the roof, was a steal for simply $35,000 on the time. Its earlier occupant was a wholesale butter and egg retailer.
Stanton moved to Northern Liberties in 1992, eight years earlier than the shadow of the Schmidt’s brewery constructing — shuttered by then, like most of the neighborhood’s previous factories — attracted builders, like Bart Blatstein, to take a position closely the neighborhood. Immediately’s Cescaphe Ballroom, traditionally the Bull’s Head Lodge, was dilapidated on the time. Lease for a two-bedroom on Poplar Road was about $400 a month.
Stanton and Wunder had no concept whether or not anybody aside from struggling native artists would come to their bar to drink persistently. They ended up creating one of the most effective Philadelphia dance golf equipment of the final era, a vacation spot that has stored Northern Liberties younger even because the neighborhood grew up.
A GO-TO PLACE
There have all the time been two identities at The 700 — one downstairs for the soccer followers and NoLibs group, one upstairs for Philadelphia’s animal spirits.
On the outsized curb outdoors 700 N. Second Road, troops of overheated dancers take their breathers or cigarette breaks. Your blurred imaginative and prescient might simply mistake the storefront’s “700” for “ZOO,” with or with out the pair of black-rimmed glasses you allegedly as soon as wanted to slot in there.
“The 700 was a good ground zero for that experimenting (with music). People responded to it.” – Lowbudget, The 700 DJ
To the youthful crowd extra acutely aware of style — it’s a weekend dance club, in any case – appearances finally matter lower than strikes, anyway.
“That whole hipster intimidation thing always seemed so overblown to everyone here,” Stanton stated. “It was only the people who came in uncomfortable on their own that felt out of place.”
Northern Liberties’ popularity as Philadelphia’s hipster-yuppie capital, implicitly a criticism of its redevelopment, has all the time fallen on deaf ears to those that embrace the neighborhood’s cultural evolution.
Any evaluation of the 19123 ZIP code would discover it among the many metropolis of Philadelphia’s – and even the nation’s – most gentrified districts. That inevitably invitations some suspicion.
And but it is emerged as a numerous, artistic, entrepreneurial, collaborative and nonetheless pretty inexperienced group. It is not a low cost place to reside, by any stretch, however the tame price ticket on one of its most iconic corners factors to a market that values preserving its new custom — sort of an oxymoron — intact.
“You can build as much new construction here as you want,” Stanton stated. “The vibe in the neighborhood stays the same.”
A lot of that’s owing to anchoring companies like The 700 and Normal Faucet.
“I moved to NoLibs in 2001,” stated DJ Lowbudget (a.okay.a. Michael McGuire/Lowbeezy), whose Hollertronix collaboration with Diplo put them each on the map as innovators of the brand new millennium get together scene, in Philadelphia and much past. “I was in my early 20’s. The 700 was one of my go-to places.”
Lowbudget had a Thursday night time residency at The 700 from 2004-2007, a slot Stanton described as probably the most profitable within the bar’s whole run.
“That was the best residency of my career,” stated Lowbudget, who famous the bar’s robust early connection to Area 1026, one other artistic group in Chinatown that is dealing with its personal reckoning on the rental area on Arch Road. “Every DJ wants that one weekly show where they can really be creative and open with their format. You were always encouraged to be weird there.”
In a career that on the time nonetheless was based mostly in vinyl, splitting bands like AC/DC with Jay-Z, or the Violent Femmes with Outkast, was an uncommon strategy. However it meshed with a room full of younger individuals who have been consuming music in a different way and whose digital playlists have been far and wide. DJs not needed to be strictly home, or hip hop, or drum and bass.
“The 700 was a good ground zero for that experimenting. People responded to it,” Lowbudget stated. “There was a shared culture of music, humor, art, everything. But at the end of the day, you were all having fun.”
Because the aughts got here to a shut, DJs like Lowbudget apprehensive that Northern Liberties was “over.”
Locations like The Piazza at Schmidt’s, opening in 2009, signaled a new part which may kill the tradition that was constructed across the neighborhood’s industrial remnants. However the Piazza-as-intended barely survived seven years earlier than it was repurposed and rebranded. Blatstein is already planning a new megadevelopment behind it nowadays, having discovered from the previous and the neighborhood’s residential character.
The 700 lived on, thanks partially to at the least one damn-good purpose.
“For 20 years straight, you can come here and dance without paying a cover,” Stanton stated. “At almost no time in those entire 20 years could you do that anywhere else in Philadelphia.”
For all of the speak of Philly’s millennial growth over the past decade-plus, few bars and dance golf equipment have actually catered to the 21-to-25-year-old cohort higher than The 700. It is low cost, intimate and wild with out being skeevy. Man, lady or trans, homosexual or straight, you can present up there with your mates, dance your self foolish and perhaps get laid.
It might be a disgrace for that sort of outlet to vanish from Northern Liberties.
Alex Tucker and Okay.D. McLaughlin, former Northern Liberties residents, met at The 700 within the spring of 2013. That they had each been going there for about a yr on weekends and individually confirmed up on Might 10 — a Friday — with massive teams of associates.
“The 700 is the kind of place where it’s best to go with a squad,” Tucker stated. “You can kind of take over the dance floor together and then mix with other groups.”
Assembly one another by way of pals, the small print of that night time on the club have been hazy, however the two ended up again at Tucker’s place close by in Northern Liberties that night time. They figured it will in all probability be a one-night stand.
“I had to be at a bridal shower in Bensalem the next morning,” McLaughlin stated.
“She woke up and was like, ‘What’s your name again?'” Tucker recalled.
He drove her to the bridal bathe and 5 years later they’re engaged.
‘MORE THAN A BAR’
As bittersweet as it’s to let go, Stanton feels prepared to show the web page and let The 700 enter its subsequent part.
“I’ve spent my entire adult life within the safety of this bar, and I’m really excited for the opportunity to see what else I can do,” stated Stanton, who needs to spend extra time fixing up houses.
“For 20 years straight, you can come here and dance without paying a cover. At almost no time in those entire 20 years could you do that anywhere else in Philadelphia.” – Tracy Stanton, co-owner The 700
Johnny McDonald, the realtor representing the bar, stated there has already been vital curiosity in buying the property. It is unlikely it’s going to be available on the market for very lengthy, which suggests The 700 might be closing a lot before anybody would really like.
“I would prefer to keep it continuously running after it sells, but I understand that the new owner may want to make renovations that would require us to close,” Stanton stated.
The proprietor realizes the sale issues to Northern Liberties, his personal group, and does not need to disappoint. He hopes it could actually stay on in a bar format that gives at the very least some of what the 700 has given Philadelphia.
“I don’t want people to hate me because I sold it to an a**hole, but I also want somebody to be able to define what they want,” Stanton stated. “It’s not going to be my choice. It’s going to be dictated by the market.”
Making an attempt to protect the very same magic on the bar can be inconceivable and futile.
“It’s more than a bar,” stated Bernadette Emore, a Northern Liberties resident and longtime good friend of Stanton and his spouse. “It’s a family.”
Emore has gone to The 700 for years, becoming a member of native associates who shaped the close-knit “Bad Decisions Club” on Sundays.
She’s a fixture within the bar’s downstairs world, the place soccer followers take over for massive matches and might be heard from the road through the World Cup. Yearly, she attends the bar’s “700 Awards,” which pay tribute the true regulars.
“This is a hub for people,” Emore stated. “I hope they can keep it what it is, or close to it.”
Lowbudget’s favourite reminiscence from The 700, again in November 2004, is a second that would not have occurred at another bar in Philadelphia.
“It was around the day or a few after Ol’ Dirty Bastard died,” Lowbudget stated. “I played the whole spoken word intro to (Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version). People had their lighters up and were banging on the walls and cheering, and then it goes right into ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya.’ That was my favorite night there.”
Stanton mused about whether or not the brand new proprietor will maintain the ceiling wall paper he designed and put in on the primary flooring. It is the belongings you would not anticipate that he particularly needs to stay there.
For the group of Northern Liberties and everybody who ever danced themselves dizzy at The 700, Stanton feels grateful to have offered a assembly place.
“I’m always going to have a very warm connection to the public impact The 700 had,” Stanton stated. “It’s been fun, and I got to do it with my friends. I would like to be able to claim some responsibility for the good times that were had.”
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