When I walked into the first night of the Save The Pinhook benefit concert series two weeks ago, I spotted several friends with whom I'd shared the club's dance floor. We all embraced. The space felt warm and, like always, endearingly gritty. I sat on a stool, the same stool I sat on when I brought my chihuahua to the bar one afternoon, the same stool I sat on one night after a protest of Jesus "Chuy" Huerta's death in police custody. I kept running into friends from different areas of my life, united for one cause—to save The Pinhook from extinction at the hands of a tax oversight, to save a room that's always been more than a venue, both for me and for Durham.
The first time I went to The Pinhook six or seven years ago, I remember grown dudes in flannel playing with a Lite-Brite. I remember walking up to the bar and making a very poor attempt at hitting on the bartender, who happened to be owner Kym Register. I joined the gaggle of raunchy, sparkly queers dancing to DJ Pancakes. In other bars, I tend to feel a little too hairy and dirty, a little too much like a freak. But at The Pinhook, I felt at home.
I was a new DJ, too, and The Pinhook would soon become the place that best supported my creativity and helped mold me into the unconventional DJ I am today. Kym has let me throw the strangest parties, no questions asked—a glam rock one, a series of nineties-themed events, even a goth/industrial night. Kym also took a chance on our monthly club night, Party Illegal, which has been going strong for three years.
The Pinhook's events are the most diverse of any club in the Triangle. It's large enough to host big-name touring artists such as Big Freedia and Sylvan Esso, but it remains intimate enough for and committed to political talks, musician workshops, and film screenings. The karaoke, trivia, and open mic nights all have cult followings. The Pinhook has created and fostered communities—the best any venue could hope for, really.
With real estate prices in Durham rising and the threat of gentrification seeming to invade every area corner, mainstays like The Pinhook are of utmost importance. They are rebuttals to the next new establishment with mediocre bookings, trying too hard to be cool. One of the most radical rooms around, The Pinhook doesn't need to try. That's why we saved it—and why it deserved to be saved. —Jess Dilday
This article appeared in print with the headline "Until Forever"