How Do They Goth in Jacksonville, Florida?

I warn you now.  My commentary of Factory @ Eclipse will be rather biased.  I’m from Jacksonville and in my youth I spent a lot of time in the scene.  I can’t guarantee that my review will be free from bias.  Actually, you can count on opinion from personal experience.  If you want an unbiased report, go somewhere else.  At least this will keep you mildly entertained for the next 10-15 minutes.

The Night:
Every Saturday from 9pm to 2am

The Location:
In the West Side, on St. John’s at Roosevelt at some dimly lit dive called Eclipse

Jacksonville is not really into the street parking thing.  But there are plenty of businesses with vacant lots at that hour of night.  I never have any trouble finding a spot no matter how late I arrive.

Drinks, Vendors and Special Events:
I don’t drink so I have no idea what the drinks are like.  In the years of my going there, I have never seen a vendor.  Factory does frequently host special events.  They are fond of CD release parties, movie promotions and band nights.  They give away free CDs, movie passes and other crap.  They have also hosted a fair number of bands, some of whom are pretty big names.  Factory also hosts freak shows like the weirdoes that do the sex shows and the weirdoes that do the torture stuff.  Fun for the whole family!

Eclipse is a small to moderate sized dingy bar/club type place.  You walk in, pay your fare and you’re in the bar area.  There are plenty of little tables and sitting areas if you are one of those people that just likes to sit around and drink and stare at everyone.  There is a mini-stage, a regular stage and other odd places to sit and skulk.

What I don’t like is the fact that when the stage is not in use, it’s like a storage area.  When I was there Saturday night, there was a whole bunch of crap sitting up there.  It made the place look junky, more so than it already does.

Since the South has steadfastly refused to jump on the No Smoking bandwagon like the rest of the Union, you can still smoke in the club.  Add 121 Virginia Slims to 372 Kool Menthols, and then add all that to the non-stop smoke machine, and you get a cloudy, smoke-infested labyrinth of filth.  It is so smoky inside the club that a non-smoker who never lit up a day in his life will come out with an automatic pack a day habit.

Eclipse is a very trashy, dirty looking club.  It seems like no one comes around to bus the empty beer bottles and glasses littering the tables and sitting areas.  The ladies’ loo is an abomination, the sort of place where junkies hole up to get high.

There is no fancy light show, or other special effects like plasma screen TVs, other than the over-active smoke machine.

The Dance Floor:

The dance floor is an atrocity.  I’ll give it credit by saying it’s better than Spellbound in DC or Neo in Chicago, since it isn’t poster board nailed together and stapled into the floor, but it’s like some weird material.  Like concrete, maybe?  I don’t know.  It feels strange beneath my feet when I dance.  Sometimes I can’t slide, but when it gets wet from spilled beer, it’s extremely slippery.  I almost busted my ass trying to look cute.

The floor, however, is a good size and it’s out of the way do you don’t have to annoyance of people traipsing back and forth across the floor to the bar.

The Crowd:
The crowd is quite weird, and it’s hard for me to form an opinion with resorting to previous experiences.  I might have made an accurate assessment if I had never been here before, as I have in my previous assessments of other clubs.

When I was coming here back in the day, some members of the club had this elitist attitude, like they were so cool, but really they weren’t.  When Jennifer and I were hanging here, we were the divas because Jennifer was into high fashion and really knew music, while I was just a bitch.  There used to be a group of kids who stayed high, and I once got into a verbal sparring match with one because I called her a drugged out whore in my journal.  She came up to me and said, “I didn’t think it was a big deal, everyone knows we get high.”  And that’s supposed to explain everything?  I used to see that girl, and her equally scraggy looking boyfriend, every now and again when I came to visit, but I didn’t see either Saturday.  Maybe they OD’ed.  I did, however, see her two lackeys, the ones who shop at Petite Sophisticate.  There are a lot of people who were there Saturday who were hanging out back in the day.  They look fatter, older and more strung out.

When I come back to Jacksonville, I am always amused because it’s like nothing changes.  Those weirdoes hang out with Max Michaels (the promoter) and the DJ like they are gods, but really one smells bad and the other is on himself.  Get real jobs, please?

Anyway, I guess I cannot accurately assess the crowd because anything I have to say will really be out of my personal frustration.

On the other hand, there are also plenty of Baby Goths filling up the scene, and I suspect in 3 or 4 more years, the scene will totally be refreshed in Jacksonville.   Maybe there will be a new DJ.  I read on a forum that it’s possible that Eclipse will no longer host a freak night and freaks will have to move…again.  When I was in the scene, we moved 3 or 4 times because clubs are always looking for more money than what a freak night can provide.

Okay, so back in the day, when I was clubbing here frequently, I proclaimed the Goths in Jacksonville scene to some of the worst dressed individuals known to man.  Their abominable fashion decisions are primarily based on the fact that this is Jacksonville, and everywhere in Jacksonville abominable fashion decisions are being made at an alarming rate.  Jacksonville is not known for high fashion.  There is a little arty-fartsy section in town, but I can’t say there are cute little consignment shops where you can find random weird things.  There aren’t any high end stores or off the wall trendy spots.  The major department stores in Jacksonville include Sears, JC Penny’s and Beall’s.  Who shops at Beall’s?  Who has ever even heard of Beall’s?

Jacksonville has been described as the biggest small town you’ll ever come across, and this is very true.  While Jacksonville boasts being the largest city landmass-wise in the United States, there is still very much a small town mentality here.  People simply do not dress, and when people do dress they either appear country or ghetto, depending on if you are white or black.  They think they are in the height of fashion, but really, it’s just a hot mess.

Much has changed in the Jackonsville scene.  Firstly, the baby Goths have grown up and brought with them their need for trend and fashion.  When I was in Eclipse this past Saturday, I noticed that it was the younglings who were dressed fashionably while all the old heads were a hot mess.  Ten years ago, I wasn’t seeing pony falls and high fashion corsets but these younger kids are into dressing up and looking presentable in public.

The older crowd, the ones who have been in the scene for a few years still look like ass.  Eclipse is also a place that is accepting of “normal people,” so you will see a few people in jeans and t-shirts.  There are even yuppies.  There are two girls who have been in the scene for quite some time, and I must describe them as yuppies.  They wear clothes to the club that I would wear to work.  You know, like Ann Taylor coordinates and button-downs from The Limited.

The Music:
The DJ is a guy named Alex Pagan.  My opinion of him is not very high, and once again I warn you of my bias.

Back in the day, I really couldn’t stand him.  I don’t know if I can stand him now, but since I am no longer active in the J-ville scene, the question is really moot.  Back then, it was like he only had three CDs.  He played the same tired songs over and over, like new music wasn’t being invented every day.  I used to go to the club more out of something to do, and less out of true excitement.

I have been back to Eclipse several times since permanently leaving town in 2003.  I would have to admit that each time I have come back for a visit the music has greatly improved.  I also have to give Alex Pagan some credit by once again saying, this is Jacksonville.  Everything here is late.

When it becomes old and trite in DC, it finally hits Jacksonville.  So after Combichrist – This Shit Will Fuck You Up was played to death in DC, I went to Jacksonville a year later where it was understood the song was being played for the first time.  I guess Alex has to work with what he has, but that still doesn’t allow for his often poor music choice.  I do know that I am quite tired of hearing Delerium – When Flowers Become Screens.  That song is one of the most overplayed songs in town.  That, and Sarah McLachlan – Silence, and that horrible Pigface song.

I would say the music at Factory is pretty random.  I’ve heard everything from goth, industrial, emo, metal, even drum and base.  You can count on the music being sadly outdated and overplayed.  When I used to frequent the club, it’s like I could predict the set list.  I think it’s for that reason that Alex Pagan does not post a play list each weekend.  People may discover he is not the visionary Max Michael seems to think he is.  But I have to admit that Alex Pagan is far and away better than that piece of crap John “I’m So High I Just Played The Same VNV Nation Song 3 times in a row.”  Alex does play requests, and he will also help you if want to know the name of any song.

Interesting Tidbits:
There are never any interesting tidbits about Factory @ Eclipse, although I did discover there is a patio just outside.  I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that before, and I wouldn’t have were it not for the cloud of smoke so thick it reminded me of the Los Angeles smog cover.

The Best:
*sighs*  I don’t know.  Nothing really stands out to me that I think about when I’m gone.

The Worst:
Everything.  Just everything.  I’m only grateful that there is a place for freaks in Jacksonville.  It’s not like in DC where there’s a whole lot of choice.  You kind of just have to be glad for what you have.  It could be like when I lived in Yuma when I just played my music in my Walkman and pretended I was in a club.

On a scale of 1 to 10:
4.2.  This number has actually gone up from my previous internal assessment.  Alex Pagan is improving, so I have to give him credit for that.  If they sweep the goddamn floor every now again, remove the U-Haul storage space from the stage and quit with the smoke machine, I may consider adding another point.

Would I road trip for it?
I’m gonna take “No” for $2000, Alex.  When I go home to Florida, it’s not because I’m dying to go to Eclipse.  Hell, half the time when I go to Florida, I don’t even bother going.  I usually lay on my sister’s couch and watch her play Grand Theft or sleep.  In DC, I get upset if I miss freak night.  Somehow, I don’t get the same feeling when I miss Factory.


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