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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  • Reem says:

    Why the serv­er is not work­ing when I click on the vir­tu­al tour?
    Im real­ly inter­est­ed to check out but its sad that it’s not work­ing…
    can you fix it please? :(

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