Welcome back to our newly titled blog, Pulse & Shadows: The ZADAR Blog where we'll talk about new music, merch, news, and anything and everything relevant to post-punk, gothic rock, and ‘dark music’ in general.
This week, I wanted to share the little-known history behind the band's name, ZADAR. It proved to be more difficult than I thought to dig up enough relevant information on the backstory of this underrated local legend but after some internet sleuthing, I was able to track down and interview Alex Vance, one of the original DJs spinning for the club between 1984 to 1989.
Nestled within the enchanting town of New Hope, Pennsylvania, Club Zadar once stood as a vibrant and influential nightclub, weaving its own tale in the tapestry of local music history. Through its doors, pulsated an energy that resonated with partygoers, leaving an indelible mark on the nightlife scene.
The Rise of Club Zadar:
New Hope today is a haven for artists, musicians, and free spirits seeking refuge from the mundane. In the 1980s and 90s, Club Zadar emerged providing an outlet for the burgeoning nightlife culture. Founded by Eric David Productions in 1983 and located on 50 S Main Street, this unassuming venue became a catalyst for memorable experiences and musical exploration. The club's name, Zadar, was inspired by the Croatian city known for its rich cultural heritage and thriving arts scene.
Club Zadar boasted an eclectic lineup of live bands and DJs, ensuring a diverse array of musical experiences. From post-punk and new wave to disco and funk, the club offered something for every discerning ear. Renowned local and national acts graced the stage, captivating audiences and setting the scene for unforgettable nights.
While Club Zadar primarily catered to the New Hope community, its magnetic pull extended beyond its borders, captivating musicians from nearby Philadelphia. The club's vibrant energy and diverse musical palette left an indelible impression on local post-punk bands, shaping their sound and inspiring creative exploration.
As the 1990s gave way to the new millennium, Club Zadar faced the inevitable challenges of a shifting cultural landscape. The club's popularity waned, and financial constraints led to its eventual closure. With its demise, an era of pulsating beats, swirling dance floors, and unforgettable nights came to an end.
But let's turn back the clock and have a chat with former Club Zadar DJ, Alex Vance.*
Antonio: Hi Alex, thanks for your reply to my post about the club. I wanted to ask a few questions to get some history on the club for those who aren’t familiar with it.
How did the club come to be?
Alex: Thanks for asking me these questions. I’ll answer them best to my memory. It started out first as Pickles on the first floor of the Playhouse Inn. Then in 1983, this guy named Eric (last name I can’t remember) approached Owners Jack Schmitt and Billy Scoreeo (?spelling) about doing a club on the second floor with new wave music. Eric brought in Randy Now from City Gardens to DJ and book bands. That did not last because from what I understand he was passing rubber checks. Billy and Jack continued the club minus bands.
Antonio: What was your day-to-day like at the club?
Alex: I DJ’d 4 days a week and played music and videos. I would go record shopping every day usually in Philly until spinster records opened up in New Hope. Also, I reported to some trade magazines like Rockpoll and A video trade paper. Also, I’d go through new music and see what I was going to play.
Antonio: Do you have a memory that stands out among the rest from your time there?
Alex: I have no one memory there it kind of runs together except the night I met my wife. It was a Tuesday night she sticks her head into the booth and asks for the Smiths. I was smitten right away.
Antonio: Any memorable bands or DJs play there?
Alex: So I started spinning in 1984 and they really didn’t have bands there. I was able to book The Vels there in 1986, they were fun. I got talked into doing a track night with this guy called The Hood. What a disaster. I did see the Dead Kennedys there in 1983. That was crazy. Kids slam dancing with a lovely view of the Delaware.
Antonio: Do you remember there being an alternative scene in New Hope or nearby in those days?
Alex: Before Zadars, there really was nothing alternative. In town, you have John and Peters doing live music and just outside there were 2 gay bars for dancing the Prelude and the Cartwheel.
Antonio: Have you kept in touch with anyone from those days?
Alex: Thank god for Facebook I’ve been able to keep in contact with people who came out to the club. Also, I’ve been drugged out of retirement on more than one occasion to spin scene reunion nights.
Antonio: How do you feel about the legacy Club Zadar left behind?
Alex: I feel that the legacy of Zadars is remarkable I run into people all the time who came out to Zadars. There were several phases of the club. When I was spinning there from ‘84-89 I tried to keep it alternative but would mix in funk classics and some 70’ glam. I loved breaking new artists. My one proud moment was playing Ofra Haza and seeing people dance to her. And whenever I DJ now I know I have to play the Cult She Sells Sanctuary. Also, it was such a safe space. I knew so many people who came out during that time.
So a quick history about me and Zadars. I started there in September of 1984 and worked there until November of 1989 when I went to work at a Video company called Rockamerica. I was there for a year. Now I spin occasionally with a night called The Old Punks Social with Ted Jacobs who was a scenester at Zadars and City Gardens. I hope this is helpful.
Antonio: Thanks so much Alex, I appreciate your time and help with this!
Alex: You’re welcome.
The Legacy of Club Zadar:
Though Club Zadar may no longer exist, its impact on the New Hope and Philadelphia music scenes remains etched in the memories of those who experienced its magic. Through social media, such as the ‘CLUB ZADAR in New Hope, PA Facebook group, former patrons, musicians, and enthusiasts share stories, photographs, and nostalgia, keeping the spirit of Club Zadar alive.
Club Zadar, with its captivating atmosphere and diverse musical offerings, played a significant role in shaping the nightlife landscape of New Hope and influencing musicians from Philadelphia. As we remember the legacy of this now-defunct nightclub, we celebrate the moments of musical bliss and camaraderie that forever live in the hearts of those fortunate enough to have been influenced, directly or indirectly, by the legacy of Club Zadar's lost beat.
*Interview edited for clarity.