Local News

Fond memories of Raleigh's old party scene hidden below Cameron Village

Posted July 19, 2013

— The Boyneses sit on their porch in Raleigh, thumbing through some old albums from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

“Here’s my personal favorite, a group called Arrogance, which was a regional band,” said Jack Boynes, “We used to listen to them in Underground Raleigh.”

From the 1970s into the 1980s, Underground Raleigh – officially known as the Village Subway – was one of Raleigh's hottest hotspots. It was a subterranean set of nightclubs, restaurants and an arcade under Cameron Village.

“It was just a really fun place to go,” said Nan Boynes, Jack’s wife. “I don't remember any other place in Raleigh where you could hear good, live, local music.”

Beneath Cameron Village, a tale of parties past Beneath Cameron Village, a tale of parties past

By 1984, worries about the fire code and customer safety meant the Subway's days were numbered. The Cameron Village Merchants Association said back then that it was negotiating with a major retailer interested in the space, but that retailer never came.

The abandoned spot has been a hot topic on the Internet. It started first with a 2008 post on the Goodnight Raleigh blog, where hundreds of people still leave their memories. More recently, the old Village Subway has been mentioned on Heather Leah's Candid Slice blog.

“Usually, we get 1,500 to 2,000 readers,” Leah said. “It’s at 200,000 people, and it's still growing.”

A lot of people want to see the Subway today, even though the only sign of its previous life is peeling paint in the old tunnel. The rest of the space is a dank, dark basement for Cameron Village tenants.

Cameron Village managers said they are in talks with The Fresh Market grocery to use the basement as a prep and delivery area. But that won’t be open to the public.

For now, the Internet is helping the Boyneses and others unearth the memories they made underground.


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  • mentalrectangle Jul 23, 2013

    @ Caleb - agreed. I would think if the CVMA is concerned about the cost of adding sprinklers, better ventilation, and a second tunnel out the opposite side, that should be outweighed by the potential for having a whole second floor worth of tenants in a space they still have to pay property taxes on.

  • mentalrectangle Jul 23, 2013

    @joebob - we still have a lot of local bands, and good music is still made. Don't let the radio fool you. If the underground were brought back, I can't guarantee the scene would be the same but it's worth a try. This is a genuine piece of character Raleigh should cultivate.

  • masontom56 Jul 22, 2013

    Wonder if it still smells of alchohol?

  • Cock a doodle doo Jul 22, 2013

    "I also think they should try to bring it to code"

    I can't fathom how expensive that would be. A place like that makes me think about the Rhode Island night club fire that killed 100 people.

  • Scubagirl Jul 22, 2013

    I also think they should try to bring it to code so that it can be used again-It's an awesome location and could be a pretty neat place.

  • joeBob Jul 22, 2013

    Lotta great memories made down there. Saw many local and big name bands and drank a lotta beer. Glad I was around here then and at the right age to have enjoyed it. The music was much better and much different then than now. I wouldn't bother going there now to hear any of the stuff that passes for music these days. Justin Beeber and Taylor (not so) Swift. Gimmie a break.

  • Mon Account Jul 19, 2013

    One would think that with all the development in that area, it'd be a great restoration project for nightlife. Glenwood South is... ok. They could make something really unique (again).

  • davidgnews Jul 19, 2013

    I performed at Deja Vu and the Pier quite a bit with bands. It was a great hang for about 10 years. Good times !

  • Caleb Lewis Jul 19, 2013

    I say install a fire sprinkler system and open it back up if fire is the concern. Right now the city is losing revenue along with the property owners and patrons are missing out on those good times!

  • oleguy Jul 19, 2013

    It did not fit into the red neck country style,, However I did go there a couple of times,, Raleighs wanta be hippys,, Atlanta Ga. Had the real wild places, Disco, Brick Wall, Was kinda cool however