Webster Hall

The Knitting Factory club has tangled history

Despite its name, the Knitting Factory isn’t another historic textile factory in the heart of New York City. However, the Factory is legendary in its own rightas a club that brought the boho back to New York. Entrepreneurs Michael Dorf and Bob Appel, transplants from Milwaukee, opened the building’s doors in Manhattan back in 1987 as an art gallery and performance space. Dorf admits that his initial reason for starting the club was to make enough money for a record label, Flaming Pie Records, which was hosting Appel’s band Swamp Thing.Experimental musicians like Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Bill Frisell, and Cecil Taylor found a home at the club, after their sound made them hard sells at other jazz or rock venues. Even CBGB passed on several artists who would later make it big. The Knitting Factory took in these refugees and assured itself a place in history, while still keeping an eye toward the future.The Knitting Factory didn’t stay small forever. In 1994, the club moved from Houston Street to Tribeca, and in 2000, the owners opened up a new location in Los Angeles. In 2006, the company acquired Bravo Entertainment, a mainstream concert promoter, and renamed two Bravo clubs in Idaho and Washington Knitting Factories. Today, there are five venues bearing the Knitting Factory name.There was a moment of silence when the original Manhattan venue closed in July 2009. There was never any doubt of a reappearance, though, and barely a month and a half later, a new venue opened in Brooklyn on Metropolitan Avenue. New York art punk group Les Savy Fav broke in the new location with a crowd-pleasing performance, proving definitively that home is where you make it.

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