“One of the main reasons that Underworld could last for 17 years was that earning money was never a goal,” says Ho. “Bands knew that this was a place to cultivate and enjoy music, so they would not fuss about performance fees. Allowing bands to understand the culture of a performance space is very important, and even more important is the way they went on to form a major scene for this kind of indie culture. In 17 years, we have never taken one cent from the government or taxpayers.”
At present, Ho and Underworld’s other owners realize they are in a battle they cannot win. Even if Underworld’s persecution is unfair, there are more bands and more live shows in Taipei than ever before. Even if the club dies, its legacy seems more than assured.
We should also perhaps remember that the 2006 closure of CBGB also involved a dispute with residents in its downtown New York neighborhood. At this very moment, a recreation of the CBGB bathroom sits in America’s temple of high culture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, marking the entrance to an exhibition on the history of punk. Underworld may someday get similar recognition from the Taiwanese government culture officials that now refuse to protect it. At the moment, it seems a very small consolation.
■ Today at 9pm, Sugarplum Ferry and 88 Balaz perform. Admission is NT$400 at the door with one drink (sold out). From 11:30pm, there is a free DJ party with Mu Chian (沐謙) from Digihai, Showyao (小搖), Da Shi Xiong (大師兄), Chosen (秋生) and Floaty. Tomorrow there is a free DJ party with Sandy Lee (李佳純), Dizzy, Underworld shareholder Ho and others. Underworld is at B1, 45 Shida Rd (台北市師大路45號B1).