When The Acheron shut down as a venue space earlier this summer, the sense of loss was palpable throughout the entire punk community in Bushwick and New York City in general. The Anchored Inn space was first opened seven years ago as a space by punks, for punks.
One of the owners, Bill Dozer, had been booking shows in New York for a decade before the venue opened, and tells Bushwick Daily he sought to open his own space because he always felt a sense of disconnect at some of the venues he worked with. Old school New York City venues could pull in hundreds of fans, but as soon as a show ended, management would be quick to try and kick everyone out.
“One day”, Dozer hoped, “I’m going to have a place that puts priority on these shows. People want to come and see [these bands], hang out, drink beer and have it be their space.”
In building up at The Acheron, Bill’s dream was realized. The space became available to the owners at the perfect time: they were able to make the venue operational for dirt cheap and started putting on shows DIY style, running the original bar out of a cooler.
It stayed that way for seven years, attracting the punk and metal community from all over the city, giving them a place to party, be themselves, and enjoy the music they like.
Unfortunately, running a business in New York City comes with a lot of ups and downs. One disappointing day, a patron filed a personal injury claim for an incident at The Acheron.
“Our insurance company dropped us,” Bill explains. “We couldn’t get anyone to pick us up as a venue if we continued doing punk shows.” The only options available to management were shuting the whole place down, or continuing operate solely as a bar.
Enter the new Anchored Inn. The original bar has not changed, but what was formerly The Acheron is now an extension of that bar, housing pool tables, pinball machines, and additional seating.
The basic layout is the same. Visitors can still feel the echoes of the music that once reverberated through the walls. You can see the fade on the floor from where the bar, stage, and sound system once stood. Gig flyers and show photography line the walls. The old bar and stage top have been repurposed into tables where patrons can drink the same beer that soaked into the floors during the room’s years as a venue.
Management wanted to keep the same vibe. “We didn’t want it to be a mausoleum, but we wanted to not let people forget. It’s still the same people; we still have the same feelings about everything. If we can’t do the shows in this room we can still hang out and party in this room,” Dozer explains.
Despite the venue shutdown, the future for the concept of The Acheron is bright: Dozer and his booking partner have turned the former location into an idea, by creating “The Acheron Presents,” a booking agency giving them the opportunity to branch out and do shows all over the city.
“It’s weird for a lot of people [that] we can still have the room and not be doing shows, but running a business is a tough thing and you have to do what you can to make it work,” says Dozer.
The Acheron lives on in spirit, thanks to the people who made it the stronghold it was and who endlessly support it, no matter what.
One long-time employee, regular, and occasional performer at the venue Chris Fara reminisced upon its closing: “This place not only gave me the best job I’ve ever had, it gave real meaning to my life. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without it and I am so fucking proud to [have worked here]. Everyone…is truly like family to me.”
All in all, it’s not truly gone and never forgotten. As The Acheron Presents’ new slogan so accurately puts it, “it’s no longer a place, it’s a fucking way of life.” Viva 57!
All photos courtesy of Kevin Hoopes for Bushwick Daily.