Greenville Avenue’s Transit Bicycle Co. will close its doors this Sunday on the final day of June 2019. It’s far from the first niche business to shut down on the ever-evolving street and it probably won’t be the last. But it will go out in style, a scattered mix of ten different acts—punk rockers, singer-songwriters, and R&B performers—will scream and wail goodbye to a place that has unofficially acted as one of the last bastions of do-it-yourself culture in the district. All while surrounded by the beige influx of banks, faux speakeasies, and of course, a Trader Joe’s.
Transit Bicycle Co. began hosting small performances in its limited space in February of 2017. The new non-venue countered the closing of one of the last legitimate clubs hosting live music in the neighborhood, The Crown and Harp, which shut down for good a few months later. Transit offered hope that Greenville Avenue still had a personality–the reason people live in cities and not suburbs.
Every act on Sunday’s bill has performed at Transit previously. Some groups, such as the The Bralettes and Hall Johnson, have played the shop on multiple occasions. So has the Dallas group, Sub-Sahara.
“We played a couple, maybe even three times,” says Sub-Sahara drummer, Alex Mireles. “I thought it was kind of small, but it was really fun. The fact that we could do it there and it was more of DIY instead of having to deal with venue-related issues like door people and all this car stuff. While if you’re there, it’s more BYOB, more friendly.”
Transit employee and local booking agent Victor Lopez played a large role shifting the shop’s attention to music, in harmony with its bicycle retail operation. He ponders the connection between the two while sitting at the Old Crow next door following a shift at Transit, one of his last.
“I feel like the punk community in music and cyclists go hand in hand,” Lopez says. “They are almost one in the same. Whether some cyclists don’t listen to punk music, they are still themselves living a punk lifestyle.” But then he adds, “I guess in Dallas it’s more of an alternative lifestyle.” His laughter while scare quoting the phrase carries across the bar.
Lopez says it was not a hard sell to convince Transit owner Fran Badgett to host the first show. “Fran comes from that punk mentality of DIY shows,” he says. Besides the rising cost of rent factoring in to the closing of Transit, Badgett is returning to school in order to pursue a career in social work.
Lopez was a loyal customer at Transit going back to 2011, when he was only 17. Like a lot of teens and 20-somethings, his preternatural understanding of social media eventually made him useful behind the scenes of businesses he frequented. Transit was originally open in Uptown as West Village Cycles. It’s hard to imagine a punk show taking place in West Village, but one can dream.
Lopez has also worked as a talent manager and booking agent for the past several years. He’s worked for veteran Dallas booking outfit Parade of Flesh since 2014. His work with Parade of Flesh also played into Transit hosting live acts. The company is owned by Dallas-resident John Iskander, who has been booking locally since 2004.
“Me and John [Iskander] tried to have the idea of, why can’t we book the smaller shows we bring through [Parade of Flesh] to make it more DIY and benefit something,” Lopez says. It was decided that the shows at Transit would largely donate any money made to a specific cause.
“At first we were Planned Parenthood, then Fran [Badgett] got on the board of the Resource Center,” Lopez says. That would be the LGBTQ-focused community center headquartered in Oak Lawn, with multiple locations in the city.
“I love Planned Parenthood, but as a queer person, I am very happy with what the Resource Center is doing for Dallas.” Proceeds from this weekend’s show will benefit the organization.
Two-and-a-half years is a lifetime in the DIY world. Most venues fizzle within months. That Transit has been in business as a bicycle shop for 10 years is equally remarkable. The city is currently suffering a major identity crisis, turning over giant swaths of valuable and historic property to mega-chains over singular establishments.
“I have heard a lot of great stories about Lower Greenville—how it used to be,” Lopez says. “I was lucky enough to see the edge of what Deep Ellum was.”
Lopez plans on turning his attention to music full time, now facing the loss of his job at the bike shop. As he tries to count what’s left in the rubble of Lower Greenville as an entertainment district, it comes to his attention that only The Granada and its on-site restaurant Sundown are still regularly hosting live acts. Should a restaurant replace Transit, Lopez likely won’t be seen there.
“Restaurants are cool. They can only take you so far,” Lopez says. “They are still part of culture, but I think a lot of restaurants miss the point. And so do bars. I think that a lot of them don’t care a lot about community as much as they care about profit, which is understandable.”
The bands themselves are looking forward to one last appearance in what is likely to be a mix of poignancy and abandon.
“We’ll miss the comfort of Transit,” says Paulina Costilla, vocalist and guitarist of The Bralettes. “We had a lot of great moments with our friends and family there. It was a fun and comfortable place to be.”
“Sunday is going to be hot, sweaty, and a really good time,” Costilla says.
Sub-Sahara’s Alex Mireles agrees. “This is definitely going to be crazier than any other show,” Mireles says. “Obviously it’s going to be the last one. All the bands playing that day, it’s just going to be sort of a banger, you know?”
In Loving Memory of Transit Bicycle Co. will take place at Transit Bicycle Co. on Sunday, June 30 at noon. Transit is located at 1915 Greenville Avenue. The lineup includes The Bralettes, Acid Carousel, Scarlett Cimillo, Hall Johnson, Sub-Sahara, Fishing in Japan, Watering, Ian Salazar, Steve Gnash, and Iamyu. Cash donations as low as $1 will be taken at the door to benefit the Resource Center. For more information, go here.