Time to Say Goodbye to the ‘Old Double-Wide’ [OPINION]
Missoula demolition crews began the tear down of a legendary local landmark today. Best known for its cramped quarters, cheap beer and fun-loving regulars, the old Elbow Room will no longer remain standing as a vacant structure and will soon be reduced to a paved parking lot.
I have a confession to make...
I started my DJ residency at this venue two years ago only on the condition that I'd be able to migrate to the new facility when it opened. If you would have told me a decade ago that I'd be spinning in a dusty double-wide trailer, I honestly would have retired and gone to work for Best Buy. Seriously. In a stuck-up kind of way, I almost thought I was too good for a place like that.
I used to bite my tongue before I set foot into the double-wide, that was soon after I took my flashy dress shirt off in the car so I wouldn't stand out amongst the T-shirts and faded jeans. I kept my thoughts to myself: "Why do people go here? What is SO great about this place? Why have they never fixed the toilet in the men's bathroom?" I look back upon my thoughts then, and as a result, I really want to hit myself square in the jaw for thinking such negative things. Because, now I get it. Today, I finally get it.
See, it wasn't about the trailer, necessarily. The reason why the old Elbow was so damn popular was because of THE PEOPLE that frequented it. These were good people, real people. These were about as true to Montana people as you could find - the ones that would punch off the clock at Smurfit Stone and roll right over without having to change out of their uniforms and the broke college kid who just wanted to enjoy a quarter beer. There was no pretentiousness, no glitz or fake wannabes. They were who they were, and the Elbow embraced them with open arms. And the sad thing is, it wasn't until its farewell closing party that I began to recognize the secret ingredient to the success of this establishment.
And now, a new legacy begins...
The new Elbow is larger, cleaner, and full of all of the amenities that make a modern bar what it should be. And yet, much like me early on in my Elbow residency, I see locals biting THEIR tongue (somewhat). Double-wide regulars keeping their thoughts to themselves: "Why do people go here? What is SO great about this place? Why does the lever actually flush the toilet in the men's room?" Funny how it works. I guess the best advice I can give anyone who feels this way, is, hey, we are all Missoulians. WE are what makes the party. After all, we are still as true to Montana people as you can find.
Trust me, years from now when the population doubles in size (which it will), the spaciousness of the current facility won't matter. The new smell of paint and hard wood will soon make way for the all-too familiar smell of a Montana bar. Until then, just don't make the same mistake I made, and waste all of your energy thinking negative thoughts or dwelling on how it was or could be. Instead, remind yourself of what city you live in and the people in it. That in itself should be all the reason why you should not fear the inevitable changes around us, because we, as true Montanans ARE the secret ingredient to the success of any local establishment.
To my amazing people on the Elbow Room dance floors, both new and old, I dedicate this song and cherished moment to you: