Nestled in South West Atlanta lies an unassuming building on the fringes of a quiet neighborhood. The road itself doesn’t look like much—a couple auto shops, a corner store, an abandoned BBQ spot that I have personal qualms with being closed—but this warehouse space brings more than just a random bonfire pit and lawn chairs to the street’s appeal. Here lies Rowdy Dowdy: the artsiest, queeniest DIY venue sporting space for inclusivity and the eclectic.
ICYMI: The Rowdy crew are known for offering an array of entertainment including live music, theater, film and other forms of performance and visual art. If you’re planning on attending one of their events, be prepared to enter a space that promotes community, fun, and drag queens.
“You can expect a Diy art circus ambience resembling a Tim Burton, Rebecca Black Molly excursion that features original art realness and omni scenic views hosted by our sexy group of gender-friendly volunteers,” says the Rowdy crew.
Rowdy Dowdy’s origin story takes place in Athens, GA, where it aptly gained its name in a secluded farm house on Dowdy Road—real cute, y’all. Tenants of the farm, Durham Henderson and David Iduate, took advantage of the land behind the property by building a stage and thus the original Rowdy was born. Eventually the group moved back to their hometown of Atlanta, and with the help of local artists, found their current home to continue the tradition. Past the modest facade and the bustling crowd, this space takes an astoundingly transformative appearance upon entry.
Beginning with a portal-esque hallway, you notice the walls lined with paintings and other visuals from top to bottom. Occasionally, you can find the young, the activist, the artist congregating in line for the bathroom or just getting caught in conversation, but generally an air of genuine interest and community pervades the atmosphere. After this sometimes intoxicating entry, you make it into the main room, where every inch is laced with visual stimulus—paintings, light, and sculptures.—preceded by a lounge space stage, and of course a bar sported by the resident drag queens. It’s an over the top experience, but inviting nonetheless. The queens do have some wishes they’d like to profess.
“We follow three simple rules: Drag is mandatory, don’t feed the drag queens, and no dying please.”
So far, talent coming through has ranged far and wide and has yet to disappoint. Rowdy makes a point to foster local talent, while also bringing touring acts that are as diverse as they are inspiring. Local bands including rap duo Coco & Clair Clair, post-rock/jazz improvisational act LONER, and to electronic solo act Common Blood, amongst so many others have graced the staged. Also a line-up of touring bands like The Van Allen Belt, and 100% Electronica George Clanton and Negative Gemini have performed bringing full productions to the space.
Besides just music Dowdy’s movie screening range from one offs, to partial music shows, to full film festival status with series such as Cinema Novo, and the crew has also begun to dabble into theater their first original murder mystery musical called The Man Downstairs this past Memorial Day Weekend. The future looks bright for DIY ATL.
“We have a long lasting goal to produce shows, music, art, and home videos for our Dowdy Channel on RowdyDowdyNow until we have inspired every cis and non cis child in America, and then the world.” say the Rowdys.
Coming up on June 29th, Rowdy Dowdy’s aptly named event, The Big Thing, will bring a big ass queer line-up of local acts, so remember to mark those calendars. Featuring queer punk band Bitter, unapologetically queer, black rap from headliner Zé and Dandy Warhol, as well as acts from many other local artists from R&B, Rock, and Electronic, this is something you definitely don’t wanna miss. Doors open at 6, music at 6:30, and entry is only $5 so get into the gig.
Rowdy Dowdy sustains itself through donations. For further information on how to donate to the play and establishment, check out their gofundme page.
Matt Jones is your average carefree black boi, community worker, and sensei. As an Atlanta based artist he dreams to foster community and advocate real change for issues involving but not limited to mental health, queer life, and POC disparity.