Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Soul Train lives on forever I guess

I found this storefront on brick-covered Franklin Street in Tampa’s downtown. It is located near an area of popular new restaurants and nightclubs that are beginning to appear and draw crowds of after-hours young professionals and smart suburbanites returning to Tampa’s original business center for great new menus, outdoor dining and nighttime entertainment. Several new condominiums and apartment complexes are opening and the residents are looking for the latest and hottest places to eat and socialize in the evenings and late night. This particular place does not seem to be open for business…at any hour. I couldn’t find any evidence it’s in business any longer or even what it used to be. A dance club's my best guess. But it sure stands proudly and makes quite a loud statement. Screaming actually. The entire façade is painted a golden hue and the sign, SOUL TRAIN, is prominently positioned over a painted entrance sign that appears to be a psychedelic dance floor. Do you even remember Soul Train, the first black-oriented music variety show on television? It was hugely successful and pulled wide audiences that adopted the sound, the fashions and the style of the performers and top recording artists who performed each week. First airing in 1971, it is hard to believe it’s been almost 40 years. It was groundbreaking and music and entertainment television were never the same. Research says the name Soul Train was first used for a live music promotion in Chicago in 1969. The show featured musical groups and the Soul Train dancers in a wildly colorful dance club setting. Remember now? The music was the very latest Rhythm and Blues and Soul. From the television program came the Soul Train Music Awards starting in 1987. Broadcast nationally each year, it honors the very best in Black music and entertainment. Although music and fashions have changed some in 40+ years, the popularity of the music has only grown more so. Now, if we could just figure out what’ll become of our apparently empty and forgotten Soul Train storefront? Hip new sushi bar or martini bar? Any wild ideas? Be creative now.

11 comments:

Lisa Wilson said...

Very colorful!! I do remember Soul Train. It's funny to watch the reruns.

Frank said...

But do we dress like Soul Train? Remember the bell bottoms and wide collared polyester shirts on men? Ugh! Thanks for visiting TDP. Visit often (I love your part of the world.)

Mo said...

A new version of soul train would be good

Jacob said...

I think you're right about a dance club...what amazing colors...can't miss it, that's for sure.

James said...

SOOOOOOOOOUL TRAAAAAAAIN!

I remember watching Soul Train with my mother and dancing in the living room back in 1971.

"Soul train brought to you by the makers of afro sheen"

Don and Krise said...

Who doesn't remember Don Cornelius and that voice of his. Excellent choice Frank.

Hilda said...

I can't think of anything right now, but whatever opens there, I hope they keep the wild colors! Love it!

Lois said...

That is a fabulous looking building! Someone needs to snatch it up. Yes I do remember Soul Train. I loved that show and now I'm hearing the theme song in my head!

Vogon Poet said...

Amazing colors, any chance of a soul food restaurant?

Tash said...

I do remember Soul Train. I was 13 in '71. I also remember The Real Don Steel Show and Devil in the Blue Dress dance segment. American Bandstand was very tame in comparison. My absolute favorite show from those days was Mod Squad. I wanted to be Julie. I wanted to drive a Challenger.

A new venue for the space - Soul Mate - a place for singles to meet in person instead of on-line. Now there is a retro concept. ;)

Mike said...

So sad. So many yankees have moved here and don't even know nothing about our history. Soul Train on Franklin street used to be a clothing store that sold the latest fashions They also had a shoe store right next to it. It was run by a family of Asians the lasted up into the 90's. I remember going there to find a pair of overalls that the downtown Maas Brothers did not have. They were in style at the time. I believe they have relocated to university mall at the present time. So no, all of you are wrong, it was not a night club.