From 1983 to 1992, there was a night club in Chicago called Medusa’s. It was three floors — a main room with a second floor Mezzanine and third floor with a “rock room” and a “video room.” There was also a small lounge that was curated by a local drag queen.
They had no liquor license and only sold mixers, so it was essentially a BYOB kind of situation. Because of the lack of a liquor license, they weren’t tied to the 2a.m. or 4a.m. last call laws in Chicago. As a kid, I would hear stories about people partying until eight or nine a.m., only to come back that night to do it all over again.
They also had an all-ages component to their programming too — every Saturday until the early 90’s they would host an under 17 night where DJs would spin goth, new wave, post punk, industrial, house, hip hop — anything you could dance to until curfew, at which point the kids would have to leave and head over to the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot at Clark and Belmont (affectionately referred to as Punkin’ Donuts).
Aside from just being a dance club, they also had a “rock room” where bands would commonly play. The first time I went Medusa’s was in 1990 for the now infamous Fugazi show, where they packed what seemed like a thousand kids into the room — many of which were skinheads (at one point, Ian engaged some of the teenage skinheads and let them have the mic to “share their message,” which was essentially yelling “skinhead!” [dude, you have a mic, we can hear you]. Fugazi left the stage to let the dipshits take over and they banged on the bass guitar a little while yelling “skinheads” some more).
By the early 90’s Dave Medusa, the manager/owner of the business was getting a lot of heat from the new Young Urban Professionals moving into the area as well as the Alderman who was trying to shut the club down. As a bit of a “fuck you,” he started hosting more all ages nights and more bands. Eventually, due to some zoning/licensing b.s., the club was shut down and was converted into condos (you can rent one for about $1200.00 a month and it might be the rock room where GG Allin once performed. [no stage shits were taken as he apparently had to sign an agreement not to shit on stage if he wanted to play])
Flash forward to 1996. I just met my friend New Wave Mike. He gave me a tape of his old band, Alterations and I was blown away. It was SO GOOD. It was lo-fi synth pop that sounded like where the Magnetic Fields, The Cure and OMD might intersect, if they were produced by Bill Callaghan of Smog. After hearing the song Two Purple Lights, I asked Mike “this is about Medusa’s, right?” I was right. On either side of the entrance were two black lights (which obviously look purple) , thus the title of the song.
If you dig this song, jump over to the Bandcamp page and drop them a couple two/tree bucks and download it. Meanwhile, since we’re on this nostalgia trip, here’s some videos related to Medusa’s worth watching (with original Medusa’s DJ mixes as the soundtrack!) —