Die Maschine / by Deborah Clague

This week in #YXE, a well regarded local music venue closed its doors. I'd never been to Lydia's, but it's location on Broadway Avenue (aka "hipster boulevard") reminded me of my younger years spent at Die Maschine Cabaret, my personal bar of choice located on Winnipeg's own hipster boulevard Osborne.

Before the internet became what it is today, teenagers used to frequent traditional media - like television and radio - in ways that made qualitative research more predictable than the wild west of marketing today. I was no exception, often spending my pre-18th birthday evenings in my bedroom strumming my guitar pretending to be Courtney Love while listening to 92 CITI FM. Most of the music they played was crap but there was one hilarious DJ (oxymoron?) that I enjoyed listening to, and after his shift another DJ came on that played obscure music by indie bands that didn't fit into the normal Van Halen/Guns 'N Roses/Metallica setlist. This is where I was introduced to Die Maschine as the radio show would often take place there. This would soon become my scene.  

Being 18 and trekking to Osborne was a bit of work for someone who grew up in the French neighborhood of St. Norbert, located at the most southern end of the city. Bus service was always shite (especially after-hours) and my car was totalled a few years prior when I hit black ice and flipped it into a ditch. So the planning took work but the experience of getting out of the 'burbs and into the urban safari that Osborne was back in its pre-gentrification day was well worth it. I was always still in Winnipeg but it wasn't the Winnipeg I knew; it felt exotic and different and dangerous. There was tons of graffiti, transvestites in regalia heading to their own scene and a drug dealer on every corner (it should be noted that my obsession with Courtney Love never extended this far though). The bar itself was modelled after CBGBs in New York, I believe: a complete dive with toilets that made one contemplate - and often choose - to use the back alley. I never stayed until closing, as I did not dare want to see what it looked like when the lights came on. When the lights were dimmed however, it was awesome. 

My favorite night to partake in Die Maschine debauchery was Thursday, as that was Brit-pop night, or at Halloween when everyone dressed up. I recall my friends and I going as zombie Spice Girls one year. I was Posh. I also recall, on more than one occasion oddly, walking back to my friend's apartment in downtown Winnipeg at 3:00am not wearing any shoes. It's amazing I never developed gangrene. Ah, youth. Sweet idiotic youth. The story that has now overtaken any memories of my own though is that of a DJs dead body being discovered in the walls of the bar. It was there for over a year, undiscovered until a waitress noted the foul odour coming from the toilets was more rank than usual. Told you the back alley was better.  

Anyway, unlike Lydia's which is moving to another part of Saskatoon, Die Maschine closed its doors a few years ago for good. 

It's now an American Apparel.