I have an impressive vinyl collection. 1,000’s of records, no Steely Dan or Joe Jackson. You know, I only have the good stuff. I grew up on vinyl and it is the medium of choice in our house. You’ll find us listening to records on the weekends all the time. I grew up in the last days of vinyl. Sony Walkmans, and cassettes were the wave of the future. You had the option of portable music to take with you, something you really couldn’t do with vinyl. Then came the CDs, and now in the age of MP3’s and iTunes vinyl has been making a comeback for more than a couple of years now.
Before there was portable music it was not uncommon for people to have social gatherings around records. In the 50’s they had the sock hops, or congregating around the local jukebox to listen to the new sound of rock and roll. In the 60’s the British Invasion was going down and they were having happenings. They had sit ins and and protested the war to those hippie record albums. In the 70’s they had disco parties, and well…I am sure key parties too. The world as we know it since the advent of the vinyl disc has found reason to get together over music.
When I started the idea of a vinyl social it was with those past events in mind. Listen to records, talk about music and trade some platters with fellow collectors. It has grown to a point where it is inevitable we are going to need a hall just to hold all the people. Our swaps have been in the Plain Dealer, Scene Magazine, and I was even the host of Dee Perry on The Sound of Applause. We lost a lot of the press since then but we have been growing each and every time we have a social. I don’t advertise at all, and somehow we get almost 100 people in the doors every single time. They keep growing as does the vinyl hobby.
My rules in doing this were simple. No vendors. This isn’t a sale. We encourage trading. People still sell stuff, but they are also buying stuff. They are swapping, trading, buying. People are spending as much as they are selling. If you have nothing to swap or sell you are still welcome to come buy. I love vendor shows, I truly do but it’s transactional. Hand money to person, get record. This is way more than that. You find something you want, and maybe swap for something with that person. Table fees at the vendor shows are pretty cheap like $25 – $50 bucks. For a vendor that means you have to sell some product just to make your table fee. They aren’t into buying they are trying to break even and make a few bucks. I don’t charge table fees. You show up, grab a table, and go to town with a box or two of records. I keep tables small for that reason and we ask folks not to bring too much stuff.
This is always a free event. We encourage families to come, bring the kids, get them into the hobby. We also encourage eating hot dogs, pizza and drinking beer. All of our hosts have been gracious lending out their spaces for free to the cause. We have gone from Happy Dog to Arturo’s over the last year and a half and we keep running out of room unfortunately. We will probably be too big for Art’s one of these days too but for now that is where we are basing our operations. Great pizza and great people. As big as we get I never want to charge a fee for anything. So we just deal with the elbow to elbow browsing.
Our DJ’s can’t be beat. Kris Koch throws down from Num Num World Music as does Bill Camarata with Bill’s Box of Sound. These guys do it for free too because they love the hobby as much as I do. Bill is going solo this round at Arturo’s. Both are family friendly as well and I think it is rare you would hear a single cuss word or demonic metal. While some like that stuff, we don’t want to scare anyone off. However, I have heard some classic metal on occasion. Plus both of them are cool about coming up saying, “Hey can you spin this?” It’s a social!!!!
So the next swap is Sunday April 9th at Arturo’s in North Olmsted. If you have never been it gets packed early. We ask folks that require table space to come around noonish and then everyone else to filter in around 1pm. We usually have a raffle of some sort. Everyone that comes gets a free entry. This time our friends at Wellman and Griffith (think high end amazing stereo equipment) located in Fairview Park are making a super special donation to the cause that you will not want to miss. Additional tickets can be purchased for a nominal fee with all proceeds going to the Waterloo Alley Cat Project for our friends at Blue Arrow in Collinwood. The drawing will be at 2:30pm (ish) and the winner will need to be present for the drawing.
If you haven’t checked it out. Please come out and see what music lovers in Cleveland are calling the best kept secret in vinyl. You will not believe some of the stuff you will be able to find. You won’t believe the prices either. Jazz (tons of jazz, seriously more jazz here then at most area stores), classic rock, punk rock, new wave, metal, classical, indie rock, lo-fi, rap. Every single genre you can imagine is covered. Some records are a buck, others come at a serious premium. Alright…off my self serving soapbox. Come buy some records!