A mile southwest of downtown Minneapolis, at the intersection of Lyndale Avenue and 26th Street, sits the CC Club. Dim and covered with dark wood panelling, it’s an atmosphere that has been almost completely unchanged since the mid-Seventies.
Written by Dan Pederson / Photographed by Nicole Feest
Torn red leather seats, beer mirrors and neon signs advertising brews that no one drinks anymore bring back childhood memories of my uncle’s smoke-filled basement. Ragged bathrooms, cheap beer and the statuesque regulars slumped on the bar stools leave no doubt that this is a dive of the highest order. You’re as likely to be served by a 20-something as a 60-something; they all have the same demeanor. A few steps through the door and it all becomes frozen in time. As with all the best dive bars, the CC Club has something about it that calms the nerves. The blur of voices and the taste of cheap beer whisper that not only does the CC not know who you are, it doesn’t care. The place expects nothing from you. Pull up a chair. Have a drink. Have another.
It may look the same, but the scene here has evolved over the decades. The CC Club gained its notoriety during the late Seventies and it grew through the Eighties, becoming a hub for the burgeoning Minneapolis music scene. It became a place for punks, hardcore kids, and other cultural deviants to congregate. Among countless other artists, writers, and musicians, local bands such as The Replacements, Husker Du, and Soul Asylum took up residence at the CC Club. Late nights and early mornings were spent in staggers and shouts, the musicians recognized by many but rarely bothered by anyone. The legend grew through (potentially true) stories of drugs and drinks, bands formed and shattered, and every passing barfly’s chance to be a part of it. Despite these bands gaining national fame, the CC was always somewhere they returned to, their names now inseparable from the place, ghosts of the old days still felt in the air. In the decades since, artists of all stripes have passed through, some famous, most not.
Expanding from the days of punk and indie and grunge until now, the CC has remained a representation of the counterculture. Today, save for the blue collars and old timers, the dive remains filled with a seemingly disparate young crowd. Hipsters and hardcore, emo and metal — all molds of the modern remnants of movements. They lack the activism or shock of past movements and the sway of strong-willed ideals, but such is the state of things. The modern cultural deviants point their focus inwards. Even the old movements are filtered down to something less than jarring. You might not want to rag on a punk for fear of a fist to your head, but it’s not likely that you’d feel the force of their movement on your life. They are no longer a representation of something much bigger. This is a story told within the CC Club. It holds the tame new, what’s left of the roaring old, and those folks that aren’t much interested in either.
Regardless, it does have a romanticism about it. Many people I know suggest that it is the place to go. To the creatives, it’s a bit of a staple, the rumored hall of legend. You’ve got to put in your time there, just to let it settle into your bones. As if it’ll change you, make you more whole, fill the gaps, the immense expanses of fear and expectation that come when you’re a newly free adult. Some find it and move on, while others don’t have the skin for it. Others find that the place itself is all they need, and they never leave.
So when you find your way here, what should you order? What’s a dish they do best, what’s a drink you can’t find anywhere else? Sensible questions, but not relevant here. When you’re at the CC you drink what gives you a fuzzy head and a good conversation, and you eat what makes you stop being hungry. All means to an end, a ticket to watch and to mingle, to observe who walks in for their first time and to shoulder up to the ones who rarely leave. No punk, no indie, no metalhead, no hipster...there is no pretense within this den. You are who you think you are, any pretension is lugged through the doors on your own shoulders.