Danceland/Bonkers/Illusions Photos, The Cynics Show, and The Battle of the Bands


The pit at a Danceland gig

Below are some Danceland/Bonkers/Illusions photos I thought I would post (and one great photo above). I want to give a huge thanks to Lisa Evancho and John P for sending me these photos. I think these particular photos showcase more of the physical space and the people that use to hang out there.

1988 was a great year for shows at Danceland with the summer months being especially good. But in addition to the 1988 summer Danceland shows I have already posted about on this blog, I think the Cynics also played sometime that summer. The Cynics have been a great Pittsburgh’s garage punk band for many years. They have put out a ton of music over the last twenty years or so and had several different line-ups. We got to play with them when they had a keyboard player and the bassist who played with his back to the crowd the entire set. Here is a video of the Cynics from 1986. I think this was the same line-up that played at Danceland in 1988.

I don’t have any photos or a flyer from this show but I think we (Direct Action) played with them and maybe one other band. I remember Rob jumping off the stage into a parting crowd and almost ripped the mic chord out of the PA (he didn’t let go of the mic when he jumped!). I think the sound guy was pretty mad at him and I believe Rob got hurt because he landed directly on the floor. Good times!

After all the summer shows at Danceland in 88 I remember several all local band shows at Danceland later in the Fall and Winter of 1988 and early 1989. Can anyone remember some of these local shows? The one I remember vividly was “The Battle of The Bands” show around Christmas of 1988. There were a lot of different types of bands that played. I seem to remember a heavy metal band playing along with bands like Deep Six, Decadence (or maybe it was the Murr), Direct Action, and several others I can’t remember. I think there was about seven to eight bands that “battled” it out that night. There were three judges and I can not for the life of me remember who they were or why they were worthy to be judges. The winning band would get free recording time at Gamut Studios in Latrobe. This was a pretty sweet prize considering that no one had enough money to record on anything but a 4 track at the time. Winning this prize would enable your band to record in a “real” 16 track recording studio. Many local bands went on to record at Gamut in the following years (I will probably talk more about Gamut in later posts).

For some reason, there was no stage for this particular show and I thought it was kind of cool playing at the same level as the crowd. I remember that there was a ton of people at this gig since a lot of bands were playing that night (they brought all their ‘fans’) and this was over Christmas break so everyone was on break from school and was looking for something fun to do.

Direct Action did a hardcore version of Silent Night since it was around Christmas. I think there is a recording of this somewhere but I know I don’t have it (Rob? Derek? Tom?).

Deep Six ended up winning the prize that night. I have been trying to get some recordings, and photos from the Deep Six guys to do a post but I have not received anything yet. But I plan to keep up the pressure. :) That Deep Six stuff needs to see the light of day!

So there are some random photos of Danceland/Bonkers/Illusions. I think most of these photos are from a show in early 1990.


Gino of Rugburn surfing the crowd



I think this is the only photo I have of Harry Latanzio (and it is of his back!). I think he is the one to the right under the “check” sign.


Crowd in front of the stage.


The Illusions ‘bar’ area (serving Pepsi to the kids). Willis of Rugburn to the left.


Jeremy and Chunk from Rugburn sitting at one of the booths at Illusions. This was when there were strange “fantasy” paintings hanging on the walls at each booth.


Here are some random Direct Action photos from Danceland in the summer of 1988. I don’t remember what shows these are from.





4 Responses to “Danceland/Bonkers/Illusions Photos, The Cynics Show, and The Battle of the Bands”

  1. Ken Baldonieri says:

    Hey Dave. I graduated w/ Derek and I am sure I was at a few of your shows. I was pretty good friends with the guys in Deep 6 and I know I have a cassette from them stashed somewhere in my house. When I find it, I’ll attempt to download it. Great blog, btw. I hope you keep it going.

  2. BurnUnit says:

    Wow….look at those folks….there is Dayna Henderson….And in the photo with Harry’s back, I think I see Thera Walkinshaw and Jen Wolf sitting on the steps….Greg Wolfe is in one, and there’s Big Jeff from Doomwatch in another….memories….

  3. del says:

    I’m in the very first photo, in the upper left corner in the white shirt! I have that photo around somewhere!

  4. […] in an old post about Danceland I mentioned several memories I had from various shows that were going on at […]

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