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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Over thirty years of music packed up in 30 days: High Dive closes its doors

Owner Pat Lavery announced on social media the venue must close by the end of the month

Quincy Allen-Flint performs an acoustic set at the High Dive, located at 210 SW 2nd Ave., during the Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally on June 5, 2021.
Quincy Allen-Flint performs an acoustic set at the High Dive, located at 210 SW 2nd Ave., during the Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally on June 5, 2021.

High Dive, a popular venue and staple in Gainesville’s music scene, is disappearing from its familiar spot on Second Avenue as announced by owner Pat Lavery in an Instagram post

The music hall, which hosted live events since the ‘90s, gained notoriety for giving local musicians a starting point — essentially putting Gainesville on the map. 

Through the years, globally recognized artists have also graced the stage of the concert hall, including Kenny Chesney, Paramore, Mitski, Ethel Cain and Built to Spill.

“Multiple generations have a story about attending shows in our building, and how it changed their life,” Lavery said. “Erasing that history and that connection is another in a series of blows for our community as it continues to ‘progress.’” 

Lavery owned and operated High Dive since 2011, along with his promotion company “Glory Days Presents!” 

He plans to continue promoting shows at other venues in Gainesville with the hopes it stays an epicenter for Florida’s music scene, he said.

“History tells us there is certainly the possibility that artists will no longer stop in Gainesville or that local bands will no longer form or have the motivation to elevate their craft to the level of performing at a venue like High Dive,” Lavery said. “I certainly hope that is not the case.” 

In the post announcing the venue’s closing, Lavery briefly cited gentrification as the cause for High Dive’s removal from the music scene. 

“Gentrification is a cancer that is inflicted on cities like ours where property has been historically cheap,” Lavery said. “[Developers] are erasing the reasons we all wanted to live here in the first place, and simultaneously driving up rents and property costs.” 

Upon High Dive’s announcement, local artists took to social media to express their sadness regarding the news. Many artists local and otherwise spoke to the positive legacy of High Dive. 

“PunkNites,” a traveling pop-punk emo concert tour, credited High Dive for its start.

“[High Dive] allowed us to develop our show into what it is today,” a representative for the tour said. “We do tours all over Florida [now] and even shows in New York, Nashville, Las Vegas and Seattle.” 

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Like Lavery, Punk Nites worries about the rift that will be left by the absence of High Dive.

“A piece of Gainesville history dies with the closing of High Dive,” they said. 

While many fans and artists praise High Dive for its impact on Gainesville’s music scene, the venue has gained a reputation among the city’s smaller artists for underpaying its local acts. 

“I must admit, High Dive was not the place you play a gig to earn a paycheck,” said Zack Sjuggerud, a guitar player of the band Twin Suns. He recounted an instance where the payment for their show was not enough to cover their travel to and from Orlando. 

However, he maintained that the exposure garnered by their performance was worth it and the loss of the venue would be a blow to up-and-coming bands. 

“High Dive was the first venue we played at as Twin Suns,” said Sjuggerud. “We have had some of our biggest opportunities playing at High Dive.” 

Eduardo Giralt, the former singer of the now-disbanded Red Letter Day, found himself in what he called an “awkward position” when asked about High Dive’s dealings with local artists. 

“I want to acknowledge the incredibly talented, supportive and friendly team that operated the High Dive,” Giralt said. “This meant a lot to me being someone that was learning in real-time... It allowed me to find my voice in the music scene.” 

He said he could not, however, ignore the negatives he heard from his friends in the local music scene.

“I am much happier to support my friends that seem to be united in their good riddance of the place than to lament the loss of a dive bar,“ he said. “As an institution, I'm not sorry to see it go if it gave my friends so much trouble.” 

Giralt’s sympathies, he clarified, lie with the employees of High Dive. 

Owner Pat Lavery emphasized his strong care for and relationships with his performers, highlighting his relationships with bands, comedians and industry professionals.

Lavery maintained that he has always been transparent with artists about compensation stating that this is just the reality of the music business. 

“[They] come back to us year after year because they trust we will take care of them, financially and otherwise,” he said. “I'm a very easy person to get in touch with, and anyone who has an issue is welcome to have a professional conversation with me directly as opposed to on social media.” 

In the end, Lavery believes High Dive and the legacy that it built in Gainesville speak for itself. 

“Myself and my staff can hold our heads high knowing that for 13 years we operated one of the longest-running and most successful music venues in the history of Gainesville,” he said. “That will be our legacy.”

Contact Sydney Johnson at Follow her on X @sydajohnson15

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Sydney Johnson

Sydney Johnson is a third-year journalism major with a minor in education. In her free time, she enjoys crossword puzzles and sewing.

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