PGH says Goodbye to Iconic Lava Lounge in South Side
Two decades ago, Pittsburgh’s once barren South Side strip welcomed the Lava Lounge–an eclectic music and counterculture venue that brought residents onto East Carson St. to let loose and enjoy good vibes in its funky, cave-like atmosphere.
Recently, owners announced they’ll be closing their doors at the end of April to develop a new concept inside the space.
For 20 years, Lava Lounge brought in guests, DJs and performers from all walks of life to enjoy daily specials, local brews and freshly juiced cocktails inside the volcano.
Jazz singer, performance artist and Pittsburgh staple, Mandy Kivowitz-Delfaver (a.k.a. Phat Man Dee), began hosting weekly shows at Lava Lounge upon its inception.
Her acts featured belly dancers, comedians, musicians, drag queens, sideshow acts, and, yes, even Ramen noodle wrestling.
She shared with us recently that the venue was where she began honing her craft as a creative force in Pittsburgh’s art and music scene:
“I am so sad about the loss of the Lava Lounge, it is where I started curating performances and really honing my work as both an artist and an emcee, host and promoter. I was also their janitor. Steve Zumoff and Scott Kramer let me get away with the most ridiculous things. Thank the sweet Lord in heaven we didn’t have cameras in our phones back then! A short list of mayhem which occurred includes pancake eating contests, Bulgarian folk dancing, Greek music nights, comedians, bluegrass, bellydancers, fire eating, side show marvelry, Ramen noodle wrestling, Porn-E-Okie, slide shows, drag queens, and the Bong Show … I know nothing lasts forever, but I know that place inside and out, as a janitor, as a backdoor neighbor, as a place where my art was allowed to grow and develop, a place where a community could connect. A village that wrestles in Ramen stays together, isn’t that the old saying? As much as it pains me to say it… Goodbye Lava Lounge, we hardly knew ye…”
Owners also shared recently that they felt they were no longer attracting the young, vibrant crowd that saturates the South Side strip every weekend. It was then they decided it was time for a change.
Lava Lounge will later reopen as Monster, an LGBT-friendly club with details soon-to-come. A partnership with renowned LGBT broadcasting station, Gay Life TV, has also come into play for the reopening; and Lava Lounge owners will collab with owner David Stanton to formulate their new themes and concepts.
Although PGH’s first-ever volcano bar will be closed indefinitely by April 30, that doesn’t mean they’re not planning to go out with a bang.
All week long, Pittsburghers are invited to enjoy a series of nightly parties curated by organizers to celebrate Lava Lounge’s historic past and memories made throughout its longstanding residency.
This week, guests can enjoy local talent and parties at Lava Lounge throughout the week before owners close their doors. Check out the party list below and be sure to stop by for one last dance.
Monday, April 25 – Spelling Bee
Tuesday, April 26 – Admiral Enright’s Carnival Intoxica
Wednesday, April 27 – The Bong Show with Phat Man Dee & Friends
Thursday, April 28 – The Bessemers
Friday, April 29 – ’80s Night with DJ Samarai & guest, DJ Doug
Saturday, April 30 – Lava Lounge’s Last Night party ft. DJs & your favorite bartenders