Skrappy's
Skrappy's survives


By Jim Purdy

There's a reason it's called Skrappy's. The Downtown teen nightclub keeps slugging along for the kids no matter
how tough business gets.

By the end of May, Skrappy's will have to move from its current location at Broadway and Fifth Avenue because of
its pricey $4,000-a-month rent.

No worries. Wherever Skrappy's new digs may be, the teen salon will survive. In the interim, the youth club
temporarily will be located at 264 E. Congress St., if the place passes code.

"There's no stopping, I know, I've tried that, but they all know where I live. They'll just say, 'We'll just do concerts in
your back yard,' and I don't think my neighbors will like that," Skrappy's frontwoman Kathy Wooldridge said last
week.

Skrappy's refuses to die because it embraces its mission of being a haven for Tucson's mohawked, tattooed
and pierced set. Of course, the extreme-appearing youngsters joyfully rock out right alongside less decorated
kids, too.

If you're a youth, you'll have a home at Skrappy's.

When these youths - who typically range in age from 15 to 20 - want to hang out Downtown, maybe hear some
live ska, or reggae, or hard-core, or grind-core, or punk, or metal, or hip-hop, or acoustic music, they'll often
crowd into the eclectic spot.

"It's kind of a mix between a bar and a playground," said Tina Kring, a 20-year-old who attended Skrappy's first
show when the club opened at its Oracle Road location.

She's followed Skrappy's to Broadway.

"It's a very cool club - it goes completely beyond cool," Kring said.

"Most of the people who hang out there are teeny-bopper girls, which is kind of annoying, but it's nice to know
Skrappy's is there. It's like a second home for people who wouldn't ordinarily have a place to hang out. Tucson's
not really a youth-friendly town," Kring said.

The alternative teen scene has improved recently with the rebirth of the Fine Line at 144 W. Lester St., but DJ
music can't compare to the live stuff that Skrappy's metes out.

When bands bounce on Skrappy's stage, about 200 kids a night will crowd in on the weekends, 40 to 50 a night
during weekday shows.

Skrappy's keeps cost low, almost always charging less than $5 for local shows. National acts such as Earth
Crisis or Guttermouth command a little more, but, "I don't think we've ever charged more than $8," Wooldridge
said.

Tom Chaplin, a 27-year-old concert promoter, discovered Skrappy's zany confines when he moved to town in
February.

"Kathy's really cool and she knows the kids and what they're up to more than anybody, it seems."

He has noticed Skrappy's loyal crowd, too.

"The kids know it's their place and if they don't show up regularly it's not going to stay open and they're not going
to have bands," Chaplin said.

Moving hasn't hurt the club in the past, and it shouldn't hurt now.

"As unique as it is, as an all-ages rock venue, the kids will still come. The location won't matter that much,"
Chaplin said.

Skrappy's started in 1997 when Wooldridge, her two sons and about 50 of their friends - most of them from
Flowing Wells High School - opened the place on Oracle Road.

"They used to go to the Downtown Performing Arts Center all the time. When it closed down, I kind of got tired of
driving my sons and all their friends to Phoenix all the time," Wooldridge said.

"They kept saying, 'Come on! If you help us, we'll help you do this.' "

Bill Wooldridge, Kathy's husband, also bought into the project.

Now about 30 of the original 50 founders still involve themselves with the club.

"We're a corporation and it works like a collective. All the kids who are involved have different interests and we try
to incorporate them all. Mainly, their idea is to have a good time with a lot of music and dance and art,"
Wooldridge said.

Cash flow sometimes poses a problem, especially with Wooldridge's big heart.

"If kids don't have enough money, I let them in anyway, which makes it kind of tough to pay the bills sometimes,"
she said.

A 2,400-square-foot warehouse that goes for around $1,500 to $2,000 a month would answer Skrappy's prayers,
but that's been a tough order to fill.

"Everybody thinks their buildings are gold around here. And the other problem I run into is the youths. Landlords
say, 'Oh, you have youths? We can't rent to you. I'm just like, 'O-o-o-o-K,'" she said.

"And I get that no matter how I say it, even if I say 'young adults.' If I said 'little punk kids' or 'alternative kids,' I
could imagine what would happen," she said.


May 29, 2001
Section: ACCENT
Page: E1