Bloomfield Bridge Tavern tradition coming to end

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They went by the names Alaska, Bagel, Binac, Bricks and Ratana. Absolut, Cutups, Ian Vaughn, MPS, Midas, and NCrawler. And we mustn’t forget Jungle Mike.

They formed 412DNB. These were the pioneers, the guys who brought Drum & Bass Night to the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern every Wednesday night since May 2000.

And tonight it comes to an end.

“The longest running drum and bass weekly event in the country will be shutting its doors,” said T.J. Harris, who monitors the beat of Pittsburgh’s DJ community. “After 13 years, the guys from 412DNB will be saying goodbye to their home at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern.

“It’s a sad moment for our community as a whole. That stage has seen more legendary names in the genre than any other club in this city.”

The genre is drum and bass. UK breakbeat music. Do NOT call it “techno.”

“It’s electronic music,” said Steve Frankowski, who owns and manages the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, the proud Polish presence in Pittsburgh’s Little Italy.

The Tavern has been in Mr. Frankowski’s family for decades, and he has worked there for 27 years.

He’s been in the house nearly every Wednesday night for the past 13 years, serving drinks and Polish food to the crowd while the music pulsed around him.

“Everyone who comes in for it is dancing and eating pierogies and having a great old time,” he said. “And they’re all nice people.”

Music has long been part of the attraction at the Tavern.

“We started off with bands back in the day,” Mr. Frankowski said. “On weekends, we had bands for decades. We still do it, but it’s not regular. We haven’t had many bands the last couple of months.”

But on Wednesdays, it’s always been Drum & Bass Night. The DJs of 412DNB call it FUZZ.

The sound got its local start in clubs like Club 168, Laga, the Beehive and Zythos. In May 2000, the DJs approached the Tavern.

“Originally, it did fill up,” Mr. Frankowski said. “It was the busiest night of the week back in the day. But a lot of [the DJs] have gotten married, had children. I call them all ‘kids’ because they’re a lot younger than I am. They’re in their late 20s. And they were always good at cultivating more folks. As soon as someone turned 21, they’d bring them in.

“I guess it ran its course. It was their choice to end it.”

They’re going out with a bang.

“They are inviting all of the former residents that still live close to Pittsburgh to perform a more than 15-person back-to-back DJ relay set,” Mr. Harris said.

According to the 412DNB website: “It’s going to be a fun and emotional night for a lot of the people that have been involved over the last decade plus.”

You can be part of it, even if you’ve spent the past 700 Wednesdays on your sofa. Just find the end of the Bloomfield Bridge at 4412 Liberty Ave. by 9 p.m.

There’s going to be a cover charge of $5.

“The performers decide the cover,” Mr. Frankowski said. “I guarantee that you have a clean, comfortable, safe place to be and I provide the sound system. My person cards, their person collects and they get all the money. Some bands don’t like that [system], but I think that’s fair.”

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com.


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