The Dragon is Laid to Rest
If you haven’t heard by now, the Blue Dragon (formally 1517 Girard NE) has been slain. The Blue Dragon Coffeehouse, Albuquerque’s mecca for the avant-garde since its opening in 1999, is out of business. For eight years it served as a nightly play house for the local “art for art’s sake” crowd of poets and musicians who were in search of a canvas on which to perform their ideas, only now to have the fire stolen from their breath. The Dragon officially closed its doors on July 13, and its death forms a major void in the Albuquerque community.
It’s not so much the closing of the Blue Dragon that is significant but what its closing can tell us about that community.
A city’s music scene can be used to measure the vitality of its arts and culture as a whole. In a town the size of Albuquerque, you will always find a sufficient number of college kids and fake ID-holding high schoolers willing to fill the mosh pits at rock concerts, so the rest of us have to go to the places that play home to improvised music and art that refuses to be caged in by the mainstream. It is in the existence of places like the Blue Dragon that a thriving arts community can be separated from one that’s struggling.
What is most depressing about the closure of the Blue Dragon is that the support wasn't there to keep it breathing. The venue tried to raise money to keep itself alive, putting on a host of benefit concerts, but it wasn't able to raise enough. I’m not saying there was a lack of support for the Blue Dragon; but in a healthy arts community, places as singular in the culture scene as the Dragon simply don’t just up and die.
Not all is lost, for a new Dragon will one day be born--or at least, that's what we have to believe. Once born, it is something that must be nourished by the whole community, or else we run the risk that opening a place like the Blue Dragon might be too dangerous a battle to fight.