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R.I.P., Crazy Donkey (2002-2011)

The Crazy Donkey Bar and Grill in Farmingdale,

The Crazy Donkey Bar and Grill in Farmingdale, one of the Long Island music scene's best-known concert venues for years, has shut down, stunning employees and fans alike. (Sept. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

The Crazy Donkey in Farmingdale was always a weird club.

The outdoor bit could feel like a beach bar, with a glorious view of, um, Rt. 110. The indoor bit, especially the sunken mosh pit, could feel like a dark, Manhattan basement club. And, of course, there were the P.A. Announcements about food. Nothing says “underground scene” like knowing the french fries are ready.

Even stranger was the entertainment line-up, which would be dance music one night, death metal the next and then a cavalcade of Long Island bands after that. The only reason it made sense is that it reflected its owners and the diverse crowd it served.

Its weirdness was what made it special and its weirdness is what will be missed.

The Crazy Donkey officially closed on Monday, six years to the day that The Downtown, another Long Island scene institution, shut down. The Donkey's co-owner Gus Semertgis Jr., said yesterday that he felt bad about pulling the plug on the club after nine years, but economic realities outweighed his love of running a nightclub. (Though he couldn't discuss it, Semertgis is apparently negotiating with Canz-a-Citi Roadhouse, the Hooters competitor with a possible VH1 reality show in the works.)

What the Donkey gave the Long Island scene wasn't just a steady flow of inspirational bands, but an attainable goal young bands could aspire to. Nearly every area band of note has done time at the Donkey and right now, there's nothing like it to fill its niche.

"We're in some trouble," Rick Eberle, chief executive of Popcore Entertainment and spokesman for Club Loaded, the promoter that booked the bulk of the shows at the Donkey. "The scene had the best of both worlds at the Donkey. We'll survive, but how are we going to replace that?"

That's a good question. Once we finish paying tribute to the Donkey, as should probably start looking for an answer. 

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