By any measure The Ditch has a long and checkered past. From its meager beginnings in 1983 when such unknowns as Ace High, The Fennel Brothers, Rusty Tungsten and Gone With The Wind got their start, to its transformation into a punk playground where powerhouse acts like Breugel, Ulcer of Talleyrand and Like Chrystal played to overflowing audiences, The Ditch has been a pivotal catalyst to many a musician’s career and an undisputed hallmark of Flubug’s entertainment scene.
But things they are a-changin’ at 645 6th Street.
Last week, Mandy Manley, who bought The Ditch in 1995 and transformed it from a venerated music hall into the tachycardic heartbeat of a marginalized generation, held a press conference outside the club to announce what everyone already knew – that the club had been sold and was headed in a different direction.
Chugging back tears, an emotional Manley thanked fans, many of whom had braved the cold to witness the historic moment, and the hundreds of musicians who helped turn The Ditch from a respectable music hall into a cultural experiment. “We love you, Mandy!” came shouts from the crowd. “Fuck Faydz!”
“Words cannot express my gratitude,” Manley said, pausing at times to regain her composure. “It was you who made The Ditch what is was, you who demanded the best in everything – the best crank, the best alcohol, the best dope, the most liberal admission policy. The Ditch will never die. Not in our hearts or our memories. I thank you all for an amazing twenty years. And I look forward to another twenty years of cutting edge entertainment with Dylan Mocha at the helm.”
With that she ducked into a waiting limousine chauffeured by her recluse dad (Adolph) without taking any questions.
But there were plenty of questions to be answered. First and foremost: how much did Mocha pay for The Ditch and how much did he spend to revamp the premises?
Whatever the price, it must have been hefty. He’s tripled the size of the club since the deal was signed in October. It now spans 15,000 square feet and is so large the address had to be changed. It boasts a 5,000 watt sound system, the most powerful in three counties, and hundreds of laser lights which, at an estimated cost of $50,000, make this one of the largest transactions in Flubug memory (which, admittedly, isn’t long).
Another question is: why were the Villeneuva brothers in the club New Year’s Eve? Sheriff Ramsey declared “total war” on the cartel bosses three years ago when he discovered they were smuggling angel dust in chocolate Easter bunnies. Why would they come out of hiding at such a high profile event?
Yet another question is the role of Hope Faydz whose realty firm handled the transaction. It’s well known that Faydz was furious at Mandy over what she considered a wildly inflated bill for her Sad Folk fiasco. The bill, which included $6,400 for stomach pumps and on-site Narcon injections, was eventually paid. But Faydz swore revenge and the show, which some insist was staged to lure Wren back to her arms, had the opposite effect: driving Wren into the ample arms of Doc Longsleeves’ Dex Strongarm.
But one thing we do know about the transaction are the feelings of local law enforcement.
“I ain’t one to mince words,” said Sheriff Ramsey, who also attended the press conference. “And I ain’t gonna start with Mandy. 80% of our drug busts, 60% of our DUIs and 70 nail gun attacks in the last six months? Hell no, I ain’t sorry to see her go. Things can’t never get that bad!”
But the sheriff’s optimism may be premature. Dylan Mocha is no rebel. That much we know. He’s an entrepreneur. He’s proven that with his wildly successful SimWork. But he’ll be looking to recoup his investment quickly (if indeed it was his investment). And though he’s attracted the attention the top DJs in the state, he’s also attracted the attention of the Villenueva brothers.
In the end, the notoriety of The Ditch may only have been repackaged for a new generation.