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.