What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Funky flashback: Raleigh Underground returns for one night

Posted May 13, 2015
Updated May 17, 2015

— During the 1970s and 1980s, Underground Raleigh – officially known as the Village Subway – was a subterranean set of nightclubs, restaurants and an arcade under Cameron Village that was one of Raleigh’s most popular hotspots.

"It was one of those things where everybody from Raleigh converged here, and it also brought people from outside areas," said Pat Boyle, executive director of the Cameron Village Merchants Association. "It was just hot!"

Boyle did not live in Raleigh during the age of big-haired bands, but she said for many performers, the path to stardom went through the Village Subway.

"REM, REO, Bette Midler and her pianist, Barry Manilow and James Taylor played down here," she said. All of these guys were down here learning how to command a stage."

By 1984, concerns regarding the fire code and customer safety meant the Subway's days were numbered.

But on Saturday night, the fever made a comeback – for one night only.

"I think we are going to see a lot of young people here because this has turned into a re-incarnation of an urban legend," Boyle said. "And then I think we will have the diehards – the people who have been here before and want to go down memory lane and go, 'yeah I remember!'"

The event was a sellout for its charity beneficiary, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

Sandra Simpson said she remembers the spot as a major gathering point for Raleigh.

"On one side you would have the mayor's daughter and on the other you would have the sharecropper's son," she said. "It did not matter your age, your religion, it didn't matter anything."

Sara Walker said she was looking forward to the event.

"That is the one thing we kept hearing from everybody, that this place used to be magic and they want us to come back down here and experience it one last time," Walker said.

"That's kind of what our Woodstock, subway pier generation is," Simpson said.

The Cameron Village Merchants Association said the space will then be used for storage.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Mary Zulch May 17, 2015
    user avatar

    I would like to see it comeback every 6 months or so. I am a descendant of Woodstock. I guess I missed the news about this one time deal. I and my kids would have been there in a heartbeat. We all love this kind of weird, strange, funky stuff. Bring it back...please?

  • Sammy Macloud May 17, 2015
    user avatar

    It's really a shame such a cool space will be used for storage and not refurbished and used for restaurants, clubs, stores etc. It's a perfect space-was then, is now.

  • Matt Kohr May 14, 2015
    user avatar

    i heard they are opening a starbucks there

  • Angie Cox May 14, 2015
    user avatar

    if there's fire code concerns you wouldn't catch me there Saturday night.

  • Barbara Sossomon May 14, 2015
    user avatar

    It has been closed for 30+ years. What have they been doing with it for that time?

    Oh, and it is BARRY Manilow, not Berry Manilow

  • Bob Leah May 14, 2015
    user avatar

    Candid Slice and others will be live blogging from the event... so those without a ticket... don't miss out on the action! Follow along virtually right from here -> https://www.facebook.com/events/1008175989207598/

  • Sean Creasy May 14, 2015
    user avatar

    By 1984, concerns regarding the fire code and customer safety meant the Subway's days were numbered.
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/raleigh-underground-to-open-for-one-night/14643537/#HHsL7YZZQBmzWG70.99...For those who remember this was the ultimate "excuse" the local government finally came up with to enable them to force the closing of the underground because of all the complaints that were lodged by other businesses and nearby residents... Now they use the nostalgia to charge over $100 a ticket to recoup the massive loss of revenue... SMH...