Harpos Virgin No More

Is a First-Time Visit Worth it After Missing the Eighties?

It took me until 2023 to venture into Harpos, the iconic Detroit club that seemingly everyone had visited during the 80s and 90s. Despite calling Michigan home for the past thirteen years and spending seven youthful years here, my concert attendance only began in 2019.

The club’s reputation for me was built on ominous warnings: “People have been shot there,” “The stage is so high, you’ll get a neck ache if you’re too close,” “No heat in winter and no air conditioning in summer,” and “They only serve beer.” Despite the lack of enthusiasm, armed with a sense of adventure and a free ticket, I was ready to check it off my bucket list.

As I approached, the iconic Harpos sign left me awestruck, and I took my place in line, gazing above to spot hundreds of empty light sockets. I couldn’t help but imagine the sight with all the bulbs in and lit!

80-Foot Harpos Marquee

Harpos, originally the Harper Theater built in 1939, maintains its historical charm, evident in the lobby’s swinging doors, the vintage concession stand, and the deco art on the walls.

Passing through those swinging doors, I was visually greeted with a brilliant dance floor — a vibrant, lit-up space that made me wonder if I had accidentally time-traveled back to the 70s and forgotten to grab my boogie shoes.

♪ I wanna put on my, my, my, my, my boogie shoes ♪

However, the sight of the stage snapped me back to reality, reminding me that I was here for a rock show and not a night of dancing, much as I would have loved to. The stage was a spectacle in itself, towering tall and adorned with Halloween decorations, courtesy of Detroit’s headlining band, appropriately named Halloween.

6 foot tall stage? didn’t even consider it

Stopping at the bar, my worries about drink options were quickly dispelled as I found my favorite, White Claw (yes, I’m that girl). However, today’s prices seemed a far cry from the 50-cent pitchers of beer fondly remembered by my friends from back in the day.

With four bands on the lineup, I was set for a night of great music. The sound was spectacular, and the floor offered a fantastic view. My preferred spot was by the dance floor, allowing me to daydream about what Studio 54 might have been like. Before you jump to conclusions, those daydreams did not include snorting coke in the bathroom.

Venturing into the bathrooms, I considered if the venue could use a bit of refreshing. While about half the sinks were in working order, the rust suggested a remodel rather than a simple scrubbing. On the bright side, the bathroom was spacious, and the notorious water issue was absent, minimizing wait times.

As for the show, I’ve included a glimpse of one of my favorites, the local tribute band, Wrëking Crüe.

Wrëking Crüe – Shout at the Devil

As a live music enthusiast, I enjoyed my night out at Harpo’s. The venue exudes an otherworldly ambiance with great views of the stage and fantastic sound. While I regret missing out on the 80s and 90s legends, I’d be back if the right band came around.

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