Farewell, my lady: The Dame closes its doors after demolition is cleared

For the past week, Lexington residents have come out to say goodbye to a block that has represented Lexington nightlife for the past five years.

Sunday night marked the final evening of live music at The Dame, a music venue and bar located on 156 W. Main St. All businesses on the block have closed, including the bars Buster’s and Mia’s.

The Courthouse Area Design Board voted unanimously yesterday to approve permits that would grant demolition of the buildings on the block and allow construction of CentrePointe, a 35-story, $250 million project led by The Webb Companies.

The decision was made after hours of arguments and statements made by those who attended the meeting at the Urban County Council Chambers.

Throughout the week, the sidewalks of the block between South Upper and South Limestone have been filled with people wanting to get a last glimpse of Buster’s and The Dame. On Saturday a small group of Lexingtonians gathered for a candlelight vigil outside Buster’s. One man played an acoustic version of “My Old Kentucky Home” while attendees lit candles and sang along.

Steve Baron, the owner of local record store CD Central, was one of many who came to The Dame on Sunday to listen to acts The Swells and The Hot Club of Cowtown.

“The Dame was special,”  Baron said. “It was the only place consistently bringing in touring bands.”

Baron said what made The Dame stand out was the broad range of music it brought into the community. With The Dame gone, Baron believes that Lexington will be bypassed by touring bands, leaving Lexingtonians with less exposure to new music.

“It’s going to leave a big gap in the scene,” he said.

Vice mayor Jim Grey attended the vigil and urged residents to attend the Wednesday special court hearing of CentrePointe high-rise development.

“I don’t want Lexington to make the same mistakes we made before,” Grey said. “We want to create a future, not a dead zone.”

Former WRFL director Michael Powell spent his college years working at The Dame and believes the loss is going to affect many young Lexington residents when it comes time for them to decide where they live upon graduation.

“Downtown Lexington was always important to The Dame,” Powell said. “I think The Dame really played a key part in bringing people downtown through offering entertainment that would provoke people to come downtown who don’t normally.”

As for the future of live music in Lexington, Powell said Lexington’s community has always managed to get by with smaller venues such as The Void skate shop and acts brought into UK by WRFL, and if history is an indicator of the future, Lexington will fill the gap that the closing of The Dame will leave.

“If The Dame doesn’t end up relocating, then someone will, eventually, do something to take care of that niche,” Powell said.

“The Lexington music community is small, but resourceful.”