What can we learn from losing Fratters Venue?
Fratters Speakeasy Venue hosted its final-ever musical act on Aug. 4. One of Red Deer’s newest institutions, the restrobar and venue, announced last month they would be closing their doors for good. The barrage of comments I caught wind of hinted of the number of people who had an emotional attachment to the venue. But even more then the loss of the specific building and atmosphere, comments on the loss of part of our culture.
I spent the first two years Fratters was in operation working as a promotions and night-time manager for the company. Many a night I spent there in conversation, listening to music, laughing with a crowd to a comedian, drinking glasses of wine, and eating stuffed pepper meatloaf. It was a place I went with my husband even when I wasn’t working. It was a place in the city where I felt that I belonged. The staff and the patrons became my friends, but even more the building became a place that felt like my Grandmother was giving me a hug. The venue was a place where people actually talked, creativity was bloomed, and people came to hang out for the sake of hanging out.
Today, Red Deer’s night scene is largely dominated by chain restaurants and bars with a small pocket of locally owned spots. The owner of Fratters said he wanted to start a revolution in the city with an entertainment scene that mimicked more like that in Edmonton and Calgary. Although Fratters did not stick around to see this vision become a reality, the venue has affected the scene. Do not moan its demise, celebrate its influence by creating something inspired. Come on Red Deer, the fight is coming to you. What are you going to do about it?
Night-time culture in our city is evolving, and it reflects our own values: where we spend our dollars, how we spend our time. Maybe we want our city to be more cultured. Maybe we realize that we should choose local over chain.
That we should shut off our TVs and gather with our community to listen to something beautiful. What does the loss of this venue say about what we value?
Naomi Kerchinsky, Red Deer