Take a Virtual Tour of CBGB, the Early Home of Punk and New Wave

Yesterday we posted about the Talking Heads’ days playing at CBGB, the Lower East Side nightclub rock historians now discuss in hushed, reverent tones. (Full name: CBGB OMFUG, or “Country, Bluegrass, Blues, and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.”) Though the place finally closed its doors in a rent dispute six years ago, you can still visit it on the internet through this virtual tour. You’ll have to guide yourself, but much of the fun comes in the freedom to explore. Beginning your journey in the women’s restroom, you can then proceed however you like, clicking from room to room and examining the legendarily gritty surroundings in all 360 degrees. If you once played or frequented CBGB, the experience may well take you back, albeit with much brighter lighting than you remember. Or if, like me, you once played a lot of graphic adventure games on the computer, the tour’s interface will certainly take you back to that as well.

Purists will have objections to a virtual tour of a place of such raw physicality as CBGB: you can’t feel the stickiness of the floors, you can’t smell the mixture of aggressive odors, you can’t trip over that one irregular step on the stairs, and you especially can’t hear the awe-inspiring amplification system. But you can look close and long at the club’s cultural palimpsest of stickers, graffiti, fliers, and hard-knocked cement. Conversations sprouted up on MetaFilter both when CBGB closed and when this virtual tour debuted: some commenters loved the place, while others couldn’t bear it; some commenters regretted its passing, while others thought it had long since become a shadow of itself. Some seemed to feel all of this at once. As one MeFite said, “Those bathrooms are just as disgusting as I remember them being. I miss the hell out of that place.”

Related content:

The Talking Heads Play CBGB, the New York Club that Shaped Their Sound (1975)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.



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