An Ode To The Masquerade

Ticket Alternative’s Marketing Manager, Jenn Ciccarelli, shares her thoughts on the future of the Masquerade. Photography by Hillery Terenzi of Hillymonster Photography.

Whether you’ve lived in Atlanta for a year or for your entire life, one fact remains irrefutable: Our city is changing. Everywhere we look, cranes dot the skyline, symbolizing the next wave of condo-over-saturation and traffic that can’t stop, won’t stop.

We look on the bright side, or we try, and we focus on all the new jobs, the new restaurants, the new faces that are growing our city into into something so special it’s almost palpable. Atlanta has become a contender in the war of great cities, and in many cases, I think we win.

That said, there’s always a price to be paid for forward progress. From signs telling gentrifiers what they should go do to themselves (they aren’t nice things) to a general questioning of where ALL of these newcomers (and their cars) are going to go, the silver linings don’t always cover the cost of what’s lost when we put up another yoga studio.

For me, the Atlanta music community (whom I’ve chosen so boldly to speak for here, please and thanks) and off-the-beaten-path concert-goers in general, no loss is suffered with quite as much pain (the kind that makes you feel like you were punched in the gut) as the plans for the Masquerade. From metal to punk, with a place for all the misfits in between, the Masquerade has been a home for seeing some of the best bands on Earth (That’s a factual statement. Really. Quote me.), not to mention a KILLER 80s Night that most of us attended with fervent loyalty and a need to dance.

Let’s look at some stats, shall we?

  1. The building was once the Dupre Excelsior Mill (the actual name as of 1911 was “Du Pree Manufacturing Company Excelsior Factory”), and may have been built as early as 1890 by DuPre (also spelled Du Pree) Manufacturing Company.

AS EARLY AS 1890! Now, as early as 2018. Sad.

  1. In September 1989, after surviving a decade as a pizzeria, It closed for a time and subsequently re-opened as The Masquerade

In 2017, it closed for a time and subsequently reopened as a what? A blah blah farm-to-table blah blah and some high-priced shops.

  1. This is the list of major bands who have played The Masquerade (meaning this doesn’t include like A MILLION other shows):

Ministry, Ace Frehley, Ramones, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Fugazi, Motorhead, Flaming Lips, Widespread Panic, Stray Cats, The Cramps, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Alice in Chains, Public Enemy, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, Blind Melon, Phish, INXS, The Cranberries, Green Day, Radiohead, Tool, Dio, Ben Harper, Blur, Dave Matthews Band, Faith No More, Foo Fighters, Weezer, Oasis, Bjork, Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson, Misfits, Social Distortion, Danzig, Chemical Brothers, Blink 182, Queens of the Stone Age, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, Coldplay, Mastodon, Afghan Whigs, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Panic at the Disco.

I can’t speak for everyone, but some of these would have been Bucket List shows for me.

Now it’s going to be “mixed use.” I, for one, was pretty ok with all of its uses and just don’t see how MORE condos and a few shops that will trade hands 5 or 6 times before finally remaining empty or worse, average, match the worth of such a historical venue in Atlanta. Also, this article called it grimy. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. But hey, we know Atlanta’s historical pattern when it comes to new vs. old, and we love our city anyways.

It’s just that we also love Masquerade and places like Masquerade (Shout out to Manuel’s) and we need to remember what made Atlanta great. It wasn’t Whole Foods. Not that I don’t love Whole Foods, and Edgewood Target, and all the other conveniences I experience while Atlanta comes into its own in a unique and beautiful and somewhat terrifying way.  I just remember being new to this city a really long time ago (never mind the real Atlanta OGs and what they must think about all of this) and what it felt like the first time I stepped foot into Hell and danced until I was sweaty around a bunch of people who were unlike anyone else in the city. And it was like that every time.

If you haven’t, take a moment to wander by Masquerade. Our photographer captured what’s happening to Music Park. They tell us we have a year. I feel like I’m losing a loved one and have made plans for as many shows as I can muster with the time we have left. And because #weloveatl and because Atlantans march on, some day I will eat at our new restaurant. We’ll laugh and reminisce about the times we had there and joke about being old because we remember what was. But deep down we’ll know, while it might be great, it won’t ever be the same.

Take heed, Atlanta, for a city’s just buildings if it’s got no soul.



  1. Masquerade has been “closing in 6 months” for 20 years. It’s not what it once was and we all recognize that. It’s a damn shame but something like that can’t survive forever. It kinda makes sense. When I was in my 20’s, I had Masquerade for shows, Velvet for dancing and Backstreet for late nights. Let this generation have theirs. And honestly, if you’re going to bemoan a lack of places for them, look at it as an opportunity and be the person that creates their space. Good luck! Should be fun!

  2. I have been to the masquerade at least 25 times as a fan to see a band, I have worked at the venue, and I have personally played on the heaven stage…and I am not losing any sleep on this venue closing. First off, how many times have you heard a band on the heaven stage complaining about the music from the hell stage reverberating through the floor. It doesn’t make for a great concert experience for the band of the fans, and it sure doesn’t make the bands want to play there for a future date. And how about the floor between heaven and hell….who doesn’t think that that floor isn’t going to come down during a crazy mosh pit or a packed night with tons of bouncing up and down. And purgatory is just a crap place to see a band, no stage whatsoever. The people that run the place don’t really care to invest in making it a better venue. They don’t care that in order to make enough money they have to have 2 bands playing at the same time from one floor away. And the sound guys are just doing enough to get by; they don’t actually care to make the sound good. Don’t get me wrong; i am sure they know their stuff…but they could care less at the end of the day because its a venue thats dark, dingy and shitty from head to toe; and the pay is shit. I am not saying I didn’t have some great times at the masquerade; in fact I just saw Fall of troy and And so i watch you from afar just a few months ago and it was a great show! The venue also gives a lot of local and upcoming bands the ability to play there relatively easy; which is great. But this is already easily filled by other venues around town; who don’t have a Russian roulette floor that will cave in one day and bass thumping from a different stage. What makes me more sad is that the local music scene has a lot of great talent; but the millions of people who live in atlanta don’t feel like coming out to hear new music at all.

  3. R.I.P. Masquerade. Yeah, take shots at the old girl if you like, but there was no other place like it in the ATL. I can’t count the number of awesome shows I saw in Heaven, or the number of late nights dancing my ass off in Hell. Sure, the building had it’s quirks (the floor in Heaven bounced during a big show from Day One, and never collapsed), but it was uniquely ours. Even in its heyday, there were better venues in town to see a concert, but none of them had the same aura.

    Thumbs up from a fellow geezer to David for the nod to Velvet. That place was also one of a kind, another one of my destinations for a night of dancing.

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