5:50am pedaling past a glowing building tattooed with corporate lettering “WE WORK”! If only the occupants of that building knew… years ago in a room with yellow stained walls and shoes piled six feet high, people were gathered thinking about anything but work. Mer Shoe! If you remember that space, then you have beautiful cigarette-, booze-, and weed-filtered memories of great times. However, if you don’t remember, then it’s okay—you are still are benefiting from that time.

Back then, bandit musicians and artists taking over spaces, convincing restaurant and bar owners to let their bands play, were slowly shaping a venue-less Durham. Some saw the benefit, while others ended up with punctured walls and broken chairs. Most of those places are gone now, but you still benefit from that era, even if you weren’t there to see it.

The Pinhook was born out of the ashes and dreams of people living in the underground, squeaking by, putting up art, and making noise wherever they could.

The Pinhook… incubator of the underground. I say that because nowadays organizations (corporate Durham) throw around the term “underground” in advertising everything but the underground. Now home to numerous start-ups, business-types often refer to Durham as a hub for innovation, or incubator for these kinds of pseudo-underground businesses.

The people of the Pinhook, having created a space of openness for politics, sexual identities, and the arts, are among the elite cultural shapers and binders of the Bull City.

On any given night, you may see the next “big thing” band or a romp of locals making a ruckus, while bumping into local politicians, culinary kings and queens, the owner of some six-figure start-up, and that punk kid who lives on your block. They are there because they understand the value of The Pinhook culture. Part community center, part theater, and part epicenter of a guerilla movement towards positive change, The Pinhook has forever lived to serve local.

Have you been there? Do you know someone who works there? Are you a member of one of those bands practicing on a Sunday, the floor sticky with beer and smelling of rock? Have you scribbled something on the bathroom wall, added your band sticker to the collage of your forbearers? Were you there for those cloudy nights on the back slab watching the fireworks from the stadium? Have you seen the glow of high-priced entertainment from DPAC while sipping on your PBR in between sets at a punk show?

The Pinhook is a city within the city. They are the ambassadors of the underground, leading sometimes with a whisper and many times with a roar!

Thanks for being there for us. And happy birthday.


Featured photo is the logo of The Pinhook.