Dear Grant and Jimmy
I have read your recent “fireside chats” on your blog and, while I can understand your being upset over the relatively blase response to Seance Thursdays, your public response has definitely run the risk of alienating the very people you want to attend your place of business. I am writing this because I truly love the Baltimore House and want you guys to succeed. You may recall I was your first customer and interviewed in the Spec about your place the very day it opened. I have since organized tweetups, brought people both from within and outside of the city to your establishment and am there for dinner on a regular basis.
As a paying customer and a fan, it pained me to read Grant’s vehement “fireside chat”
I quite enjoyed Seance on Thursdays, however was more than open with the fact that a) it was a work night and b) it coincided with my other job, so I would be unable to attend. However I also know that the music was quite experimental and, by even my tastes, an acquired taste so could appreciate that it would be a hard sell for a city that is just coming to terms with Dubstep as a mainstream music form.
I think my main concern is the overall negative tone of Grant’s initial posting is that it honestly comes across as “We tried to educate you by giving you what we know to be cool, but when you didn’t come in droves it became obvious that you are ignorant.” Having talked to Grant and Jimmy and enjoyed the hospitality of their establishment, I know this is not the case, however the tone of the May 25, 2012 fireside chat comes across in this manner.
Jimmy’s response on June 1st confirms what I know about the two gentlemen who have invested in the City of Hamilton, but also reflects the kind of response that they have received due to the power of social media. I know as a fact that this posting has cost the Baltimore House the business of a number of long-term customers.
When Grant made comments like “In our short time we’ve come a long way and learned a lot about not only our vision but what it takes to make that vision work within a promising, albeit, temperamental city; a city that in and of itself is still really only in it’s cultural infancy.” He ignores the fact that people have been working in this city for DECADES to build things up culturally and that he is, in essence, discounting and dismissing the very people who have worked hard in the city of Hamilton to lay the foundation for places like the Baltimore House to exist. These people are also the target demographic you seem to be interested in pursuing.
Grant then continues “Over the past few years as I thought more and more about The Baltimore House I got increasingly excited because, at the same time, I was watching a true “scene” develop in places like Brooklyn that was precisely what I wanted for Thursday nights in Hamilton.” He misses the very point within his own writing – that the scenes that developed in places like Brooklyn, Austin, Portland and Chapel Hill, NC developed over a period of at least a few years. Believe me, not all bars/clubs have instant success with theme nights, particularly when a theme is an admitted “we could make Thursday a popular night to come out and hear new, experimental electronic music and even, possibly, dance to it…” acquired taste.
Grant then proceeds to (to coin a word used in his fireside chat) “piss” on the scene with the following sentence “This was something I did because in other markets as close as Toronto, I had seen this kind of publicity often prove to be a golden ticket. But again: this was Hamilton not Toronto and the ticket here was piss coloured not golden.” Ironically, he says this in a paragraph after stating: “One of the hardest lessons Hamilton has personally taught me is that it isn’t Brooklyn. It isn’t London. And it isn’t even Toronto. And despite what I want to believe, and what I DO believe for the future of the city, the basic fact remains: Hamilton is Hamilton.”
I’m surprised that as a McMaster student and resident of the city for the apparent duration of his degree, Grant would find this surprising and a recent revelation…Hamilton IS indeed Hamilton – it has a mere fraction of the population of the cities he mentions and is only beginning to rebuild the inner city after years of neglect.
Grant and Jimmy have stated on several occasions and in many formats that they want Baltimore House to be a “community in and of ourselves; to be a lifestyle and most importantly to work on being an upstanding, positive and safe place- a place where we would feel happy and comfortable being even if we didn’t own and work there. Transparency, honesty, open communication and respect have were among the most important pillars that the business was originally built upon..” Well I guess they have discovered that the community has spoken and, in essence, voted with their presence and pocket books.
I’m indeed sad that something Grant believed in and loved did not attract a wider audience, however the necessities of operating a business means you also must acquiesce to the folks who are paying your bills. However responding in a angst-ridden outburst, similar to the way the “bros” you malign in your blog, does not help garner support for either Seance or your business. How about engaging the folks who did attend, even if only for an hour and ask them what worked for them and what didn’t work?
Yes Seance was cool, yes Seance was definitely an acquired taste, and no, it didn’t work out. It’s a shame, but not unheard of in the industry, and lashing out at your prospective audience/clientele is not the cure. As a musician, it hurts me when my music that I think is really great and represents me and my voice falls on an uninterested audience, however I understand that it is due to differing tastes. I merely take it as a lesson learned and regroup for the next round.
I look forward in seeing what the next round for Thursday nights at Baltimore House brings!