A lot of the New York UCB community has spent the last few weeks saying goodbye to the Chelsea theater. It closed earlier this week, and a new west side location is opening very soon in Hell's Kitchen. I'm late to the #ByeChelsea hashtag, but it took me until today to sit down and fully process my thoughts. Also, this is my blog and I do what I want, heyo!
Like a good Libra, I've had conflicting feelings over the past week or two about the theater closing. The rational side of me recognizes that it's been years since I really felt like I was part of UCB — almost three years since I stopped working box office at UCB East, and even more years since I've taken classes or performed on the Chelsea stage. I love improv, but I'm not a good improviser, and never had the patience to fully commit myself to UCB's sketch style. Because of that, I hit a point where I knew I'd never really be accepted as a performer there. And that's OK (or, at least that's what I can tell myself when I'm feeling strong and confident).
I can't help brimming with nostalgia when I think about the Chelsea theater, and think about the times I did feel part of UCB. I interned on Wednesday nights there for over a year, back in the days of Adsit & Gausas and School Night. Interning led to working in the box office occasionally, which led to me being one of the first box office people (or as I like to say, "box officers") at UCB East. UCB introduced me to nearly all my New York City friends — a whole community of weirdos like me who I couldn't wait to hang out with every week.
Also, without UCB, I never would have gotten into storytelling. I think UCB storytelling classes are rare now, but back in 2010, Margot Leitman's Storytelling 101 class was the underground cool class to take if you felt burnt out on improv. I'm so glad I did. Margot's class opened a whole new world of possibility to me, both in performing and writing.
I am a little sad that I never "made it" on that stage, but I had a lot of good times in that theater, and maybe it was not the stage I was supposed to "make it" on. Instead, it was a cool place to get started while I figured shit out.
So I will say goodbye:
Goodbye, magical smell of dank carpet and spilled beer and sweat.
Goodbye, view from the box office window as people came down the stairs, trying to identify them before their torso was visible.
Goodbye, box office that was like a modern art museum, with layers and layers of random photos and posters and graffiti all over the walls.
Goodbye, "Jeff Goldblum is watching you poop" poster in the green room bathroom (did someone take that as a souvenir?? I hope so).
Goodbye, weird dinners composed of stuff you bought in five minutes at Gristedes while someone saved your place in line outside.
Goodbye, New Year's Eve parties and post-DCM parties where you'd wind through all the back hallways, stepping in beer puddles, brushing past alumni who were now on TV, drinking mysterious jungle juice, then spill out onto the dance floor of the stage and sweaty-dance with your old classmates.
Goodbye, dragging trash through the back hallway to the outside dumpsters at 1am, praying that the bag wouldn't burst and leak beer all over you, then praying that you wouldn't get locked out in the alley.
Goodbye, cramming into a late-night show, standing in the back, pressed up against the carpeted wall that rose behind the seats, arms folded on the top of it, laughing and laughing and laughing into a stranger's ear.
Goodbye, Chelsea. It's been great.