Cheer Up Charlie's Out, La Corsha In
East Sixth game-changer faces a new owner and lease non-renewal
By Kate X Messer and Sarah Marloff,
11:15AM, Fri. Dec. 13, 2013
Christmas came early for the gang at Cheer Up Charlie's, taking the distinct form of a big ol' lump of coal.
According to a letter sent out via email and social media this morning by Cheer Up's owner/managers Tamara Hoover and Maggie Lea to inform supporters, performers, and fans, the land on which the club resides has been purchased and the new owners have plans for the space – apparently plans that don't include Cheer Up Charlie's. The club – that many attest set the tone and injected a playfulness and "Austin-ness" into the East Sixth renaissance sorely missing from other burgeoning Austin club districts – will officially close January 15, 2014, giving the crew at least the holidays and New Years Eve to sort out their next steps and allow friends and fans a last chance to enjoy some good, albeit spiked, holiday cheer.
Here is the letter, in its entirety:
We have received news that the property that Cheer Up Charlies sits on has been sold and the new owners have given us notice that our current lease will be terminated on January 15th.
We are currently seeking a new space, and we intend on continuing to grow. When we find our new spot we will continue to play host to the same kinds of events – free live music shows and all kinds of other fun stuff! We are deeply saddened that it’s ending for us at 1104 East 6th St., but nothing is dying. Our rhythm may be disrupted for awhile, but we will keep on dancin’!
We hope that you stop by sometime before January 15 to celebrate with us in what will soon become our former home. Consider the next 30 days more of a celebration of the creative endeavors our current building has housed, than an eulogy. Thank you for hanging out with us for 3 tremendously fun years, it couldn’t have been the same without you! We will find a new space and we will let you know as soon as we do! No matter where we end up, we will take the spirit of the Eastside with us! Let’s all give this 600 sqft building a proper farewell hug!
We Love YOU, Candice, India, Brian, Carly, Celesta, Paul, Matt, David, Zach, Dustin, Paul E, Max, Ellie, Tison, Cole, Tamara, Maggie, and Charlie <3
Hoover verified in a brief interview that the new owners are the La Corsha Hospitality Group, the folks behind development, restoration, and redevelopment projects Bar Congress and Congress Austin, the historic Driskill Hotel, the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Bolla and the Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas, the upcoming the Seaholm Power Plant, and more, according to the Bar Congress website. Rumors that had been brewing for over a year about a planned hotel project on the 1104 E. Sixth site begin to make sense, however, Hoover would neither confirm nor deny any news of the current site plan. She only knows it does not involve Cheer Up Charlie's.
Since its move in 2010 from a small trailer on the corner of E. Sixth & Waller, serving vegan chocolates and organic coconut drinks and throwing mad spontaneous dance parties and other odd little events, to the former Ms. Bea's space at 1104 –at the time, a modestly maintained concrete-block structure with a cement pad and some dirt for a backyard – Cheer Up Charlie's has made East Sixth Street home.
And it wasn't just their home. Some argue that Cheer Up's puckish and potent presence had a great impact on what came to distinguish the more "organic" nature of the emerging entertainment row east of I-35 that has come to be known as "East Sixth." Cheer Ups über-inclusive atmosphere lead to ongoing relationships, hosting events with community groups as diverse as high-end motorcycle clubs, local neighborhood associations, mainstream gay organizations like the HRC, the local and indie film scene via screenings and launches, emergent visual and DJ artists like Mouthfeel, Girlfriend, and the Queer Qumbia collective, all the way to the scruffiest of pop, rock, and punk bands and performance artists. Cheer Ups Charlie's masters that rare Austin hybrid of tasteful, yet risk-taking curation of art and musical mainstream and underground, a love child which defines the very essence of what makes Austin Austin, yet somehow can't seem to find or sustain venues to support and promulgate this love.
Ironically, in this case, Cheer Up Charlie's has had no problem sustaining their business and loyal clientele with their slow but steady growth (the back deck is one of Austin's coziest and their murals and interior set the bar for Austin reuse-reclaim-recycle chic).Three and a half years into their stay, and just as the bar hits a stride – the lounge, by all counts is a success – having surviving last year's sound-ordinance compliance issues by investing in a bandshell and by earnestly fostering networks of neighborhood, music scene, and queer culture support, Cheer Up Charlie's is now having to pack up and move on.
Meanwhile, while the future of East Sixth is hazy, the immediate future of Cheer Ups is clear: The gang finds themselves in the very real-world sprint to establish new digs at a crucial time when many clubs are on the hunt. "We’re on a tight schedule to find a lease or we’re going to have some closed dates which we don’t want," says Hoover.
"We still want to keep that small D.I.Y. vibe," adds Lea.
What the future brings is unclear, but it may clear up quickly.
"We’re gonna stay free shows, we’re gonna stay low prices, we’re gonna stay Stanley Roy and all of our queer events," insists Hoover. "We want to stay us."
Lea chimes in, "We’re like a little heart beat right in the middle of the street. It's very sad, but I think maybe we can take what we have here and try to recreate it."