The White Rabbit is ToST

By on December 17, 2013

Another week, another venue closing announcement.

The White Rabbit, formerly known as ToST, has been sold and will cease to be a venue on January 1, 2014.

 (Editorial Note! This is a guest post by WAR Mistress of Logistics Lynn Turner. Her life has long been intertwined with this small venue in Fremont, as she describes below. She invites us to lift a glass to this dying light in the Center of the Universe.)

Weathering two names and three owners since 2002, the venue in Fremont has remained important for the warm and welcoming community that grew up around the performance space. It has hosted local and touring acts, nurtured newer bands, and honored the skills of seasoned professionals. The venue is a place where you can dance intimately close to the performers, or sit back by the fire and drink it all in. It’s a place with top-notch long-running weekly shows where you’re regularly treated to world-class musicians sitting in with the instrumental group Spellbinder or jumping on stage with the groove collective Marmalade. And it’s not just music: ToST was home to Seattle Poetry Slam, comedian Elicia Sanchez’s Enematic Cinematic podcast is recorded live at the White Rabbit, and a variety of burlesque nights and other creative endeavours have taken the stage.

Marmalade

Marmalade

The venue is special to me for a lot of personal reasons, not the least of which is because it’s where I met the man who would become my husband (at the time, he ran the sound for a monthly show I was a part of with the Deepsleep Narcotics Co. at ToST). But since the place has meant something to many people, I spent the last few days talking to others in our community about their memories.

We shared some of the wild stories that happen in and around bars, like the time when Benny (Fremont’s eccentric rock balancer) intervened to help save some of the staff and a cab driver when they were attacked by a couple of drunks.

We shared laughs about the broken ice machine’s “fancy lid” and creative ways to hurtle bottles into the recycling bin.

I heard one regular’s thanks for a bartender’s work to keep him from a drunk driving incident, and I heard something from a former employee about “the few (but memorable) sexual encounters I had there, both on and off the clock, of which I’ll only say that none of them were in those filthy fking bathrooms.”

But mostly the conversations have been about fond reminiscence of the good times and great shows, like the crazy nights with Blake Lewis and KJ Sawka, amazing performances by Buddy Wakefield and (the late) Jack McCarthy, the moving Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey on tour, the Miss Solar System CD release party where they blew the subwoofer, and so many more.

Michael Shrieve

Michael Shrieve

We talked about the magic of a small place like this having a direct connection to Woodstock, and getting to experience the 40th anniversary of that historic festival with the legendary drummer Michael Shrieve, who played Woodstock with Santana at age 19, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and now plays here weekly.

So stop by in the next few weeks to say goodbye to the venue and support the staff and bands. A big proper sendoff will be on New Year’s Eve, when Marmalade and Surrealized–both of whom have been there through the course of the many changes–will take the stage for one last blowout dance party. See you there, friends. UPDATE: The space will be called “The Red Star Taco Bar” going forward. The owners are applying for a nightclub liquor licence.

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