On Tuesday night, I went to see the Write Club at the Hideout. First things first. If you’ve never been to the Hideout, you should go. It’s an incredible entertainment venue/bar. It’s near the Home Depot on North avenue; it’s a tiny house in the middle of a mostly industrial area (There is a streets and Sanitation lot there with lots of garbage trucks). But it’s a lovely bar with a stage in the backroom where there are amazing events year round. They describe themselves as “not your father’s bar but your grandfather’s bar.”
I’ve been going there for years for various shows. Third Coast International Audio Festival has done several Listening Rooms there. For those of you unfamiliar with Third Coast, listening Rooms are events where audience collectively listens to a series of audio pieces usually around a single theme). Pocket Guide to Hell has had several events there including the First Ward Ball in March (where I was Minna Everleigh), and two episodes of Studs’ Place, a recreation of Studs Terkel’s TV show from the 1950s. They also hosted Bellwether Market, a “market and happening,” where we dressed as Temperance workers and protested the drinking of beer. I’ve definitely had good times there.
The Hideout is probably known best for its music but I’ve only been there for the 2013 Hideout Block Party where I saw Neko Case (who was awesome). They’ve been the starting point for several bands as well.
The Write Club is considered live literature. It describes itself as “literature as blood sport.” It’s supposed to be like Fight Club, but with writing. It’s funny at times, profound at times, and admittedly it can be bizarre. In an October bout, one of the contestants decided to pull out a lab coat in the middle of his speech and talk about the aliens eating our brains. Bizarre beyond belief but delightful. Just the way I like it. The basic format is that there are three rounds of two writers facing off. Each writer has 7 minutes to make a case for a single word like “Zombie” v. “Vampire” or “Naughty” v. “Nice.” The words tend to be seasonal in the few times I’ve gone. The stories can be fictional or non-fiction, prose or poetry.
For instance, there was “Fallow” v. “Fertile.” The “fallow” piece was about the use and misuse of the word “fallow” while “fertile” was about a young woman dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. Tonight in “Santa” v. “Jesus,” the Santa piece was a well-constructed letter from a soldier in the War against Christmas that talked about the cleverness of using Santa as marketing.
Then the audience votes on it and one writer is declared the victor. To add to the chaos/fun, each writer chooses a charity and if they win, the charity gets a portion of the evening’s proceeds. Upon winning, the winner announces the charity while the loser tells us what charity we failed to support. It’s brash, profane, and fun.