Chapter 01 - Safari Nite Club
OK, for those that have bothered to read the other histories, I've put in here you know a little of the back ground. I guess what I'm trying to do is document as much of the last few years before it's lost. So here's my version of the history of a building that has been the home for the Des Moines Music scene since 1996, Safari Nite Club & Hairy Mary's. If you have things to add or if I got a date wrong, or better yet if you have photos e-mail me.
I'm not sure when the first time was that I stumbled in to Safari. It may have been before Tony Trenell owned it. I believe at that time it was know as The Dog House. It was a little hole in the wall College bar. I'm sure that I was well under age and the fact that I don't really remember much about it I must have been drunk. A few years latter I remember seeing a band in the small club that would have been around 91 or so. I don't remember what band it was(because they sucked) but I do remember drinking Red Stripe and trying to pick up this college girl with little luck. I believe that Tony bought the bar in 1993. At the time he was a Drake Law Student from Nigeria with a love of Rasta music. This combined with the location close to Drake set the bar's image as a Hippy hang out. A lot of local grove bands hard up for a place to play and alternative acts played there over the years including some surprisingly larger Rasta bands.
The original Stage was set up on the South end of the east side of the bar, just inside the door. At the time, the front windows were open and you could see in from the street. Over the next 4 years the stage moved around a lot. The first move was into the west building with the stage facing the bar. I'm not sure where the sound booth was at that point but at the time, Tony only was renting half the building. Then it was moved to the south side of the west building were it was sitting when in 96 when the club changed formats. the sound board was just in front of the women's restroom on the north side of the west building with an area with pool tables and booths.
The first time I clearly remember spending any time in the club was in the summer of 96. A client of mine who DJed down there at times asked me to stop by. I remember the place being empty and dirty. At one point a roach ran across the bar in front of me. At the time, there really wasn't any place for live original music in Des Moines. We were all really looking for a new club and had been since Hairy Mary's/2nd Ave Foundry closed it's doors in the fall of 95. So in part I was kinda checking out the place.
Tony was having problems by 96 and had grown tired of all the pains of trying to keep the club going. One of the biggest problems he had is the increasing level of Thugs showing up at the club. Rasta had had a good year and had to a degree crossed over from the hippie drug grove and into Hip Hop. So along with the large audience came a new level of wanta be gangsters. The end effect was about 10 rough necks wrecking the party for everyone else. It got to the point where Tony couldn't keep any paying customers in the place and the rough new crowd was unwilling to pay for anything. A rough place to be, to say the least. Tony figured that it was time of a change.
Next Chapter - Chapter 2 - The Change