Inspiration and Belonging – A Love Letter to The Cellar

Cellar
Photo Courtesy of Sam Tomlin

The Cellar (and its previous incarnation as The Dolly) is too important a venue to be lost. It has a rich musical history and for me and many others it’s part of our personal history.

You can sign a petition here to Save Oxford’s nightlife. Stop the closure of The Cellar.

The live music is obviously a key part of The Cellar’s charm and individuality. Here’s a list of bands I’ve seen in The Cellar; Dedlok, KARN8, Elmbridge Court, Western Sand, Fireroad, A Higher Demise, Remnant, Black Light Machine, Get Loose, Savage Messiah, Desert Storm, Last Great Dreamers, Steamroller, Contraverse, 12 Gauge, Theia UK, Terminus, Black Iron Priest, Ded Orse, Control The Storm, Hell’s Gazelles, Bad Behaviour, Hell’s Gazelles again, Texas Flood, Toadstool, Triaxis, Bigfoot, Terminus again.

I also saw a load of bands in The Cellar’s previous incarnation as The Dolly; The Bad Men, JOR, Bad To The Bone, Charlie Mouse, to name but a few. It was my regular Sunday night haunt back in the late 80s and early 90s.

But it’s not even just the music, it’s having somewhere to belong, somewhere to find people who get excited about the same music you do. The Cellar is used by diverse music groups, (some of which sound dreadful to me but that’s not the point). We don’t need any more shops but we do need meeting places and we do need to give music somewhere to happen. The Cellar is perfect for intimate gigs and becoming intimate with people.

Drinking in The Dolly and The Cellar in part inspired me to write my Eviscerated Panda Saga, about a fictional metal band. I wonder how many audience members have stood in The Cellar and decided that they want to play an instrument or sing?

Here’s a list of ten highly personal weird/notable things that I remember happening in the Dolly/Cellar;

  1. The time a chap put a six inch nail up his nose to impress me.
  2. The stripper that looked like Geoffrey from Rainbow.
  3. The man with handcuffs in his waistcoat pocket who told me he was journalist and asked if I wanted to go home with him but I didn’t because I find waistcoats deeply unattractive.
  4. The time I was sad and it looked like Mick Jagger shed a tear (there used to be a Rolling Stones poster in the Dolly and it is a damp sort of place so maybe Mick just happened to drip at that point, but it felt like a communion between the two of us).
  5. The night the Bad Men played (chaos, pure chaos).
  6. The night I was drunk and threw a rose onstage to the singer, thinking I was Rene from the Rene and Renata video.
  7. Me realising you can be mates with someone even if you’ve both shagged the same chap. Basically this makes you sperm sisters and everyone deserves to be happy, although your happy ending may not be where you expect to find it.
  8. Charlie Mouse’s intro music.
  9. Listening Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” being karaoke’d every week for ages.
  10. The awesome DJs (special mention should go to Paul Axtell, Terry Webb and John Chadwick).

Let’s do our best to preserve this little niche of Oxford where wonderful sounds can be heard, connections can be made and life can be lived loudly.

6 thoughts on “Inspiration and Belonging – A Love Letter to The Cellar

  1. I have very fond memories of my many visits to the Dolly back in the 90s when we had many friends there from the Oxford Switch Club ( I kept trying to coax you to the Switch, if you remember…!). My mate Darren’s band Blakkout even played there twice. Lovely venue with a friendly local crowd and a real buzz. Someday I am hoping to return to get nostalgic and see a band or two and for this reason the Cellar must not become a shop!!!

    Like

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