Lifestyle » Vol. 2

The Comic Strip and Steeple Bumstead

Two Great Worcester Clubs Gone but Not Forgotten
By Lauren Koblara

Gus Giordano

Gus Giordano

There are certain places in the history of Worcester that just seem unforgettable ~ They’re the old neighborhoods, Elm Park, the Common. Each generation seems to have certain places that stir up memories. For many Baby Boomers in the Worcester area, a trip down memory lane leads them to local nightlife hot spots like the Comic Strip or Steeple Bumpstead.

Ed Madaus and Paul Tinsley were sophomores at Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross in 1966 when they decided to get into the night club business with their teen club the Comic Strip. The two friends noticed how successful the Saturday night dances held at the local YMCA had become and got involved. Madaus says that he and Tinsley booked a few teen dance nights at a local hall but that the attendance was “…so large, we had to move it elsewhere.” ”Elsewhere” was to two rented storefronts in Lincoln Square and thus was born the Comic Strip, which eventually spread out across the entire block of storefronts and became the place for local kids to hang out.

The Comic Strip was created strictly for fun and housed a giant dance floor and a large stage. The walls were painted black with some comic strip murals painted by a friend of Madaus and Tinsley. Although they never designated specific ages for each night, Madaus says that Fridays usually catered to the older teens and Saturday seemed to be popular with the younger teens. Regardless of which night you went to the Comic Strip, you were guaranteed to see live acts, both local and n

ational. Musical groups like Freddy Boom Boom Cannon, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, and Neil Diamond (yes, THAT Neil Diamond ~ Madaus recalls that he paid the performer a mere $500 ~ and Diamond showed up with just a guitar and then stayed after the show to play cards ~ talk about a priceless memory!) helped pack the Comic Strip week after week.
Madaus credits most of the club’s success to the fact that the Comic Strip had top notch security every night. The police presence, Madaus says, “…made it a safe place for parents to drop off their kids.” With trouble at a minimum, excellent live music and a fun atmosphere, the Comic Strip has a special place in the memories of many a Worcester baby boomer. “It was fun times while we were in college,” says Madaus.

And Remember These?
Brandy Banjo
Mad Hatter/Zip’s Penthouse
The Bancroft Club (Auburn)
The Last Chance Saloon
Sir Morgan’s Cove
The Red Barn (Westboro)
The Back Room
The Heat Wave

Moving forward through the Worcester night club time tunnel…It’s 1971 and we’re on our way to Steeple Bumpstead’s with our platform dancing shoes in hand. Patrons of Bumpstead, otherwise known as “Steeple People,” filed into the Millbury Street dance club to listen to local disc jockeys Dave O’Gara and Jay Laprade play the popular tunes of the day. Complete with a light-up Saturday Night Fever style dance floor and disco ball, Bumpstead was the place for Worcester to dance the night away.

Steeple Bumsteads

Steeple Bumsteads

Today the owner of Maxwell-Silverman’s Toolhouse and Club Maxine’s, two of Worcester’s premier dining establishments, in the 70s Gus Giordano was the leader and proprietor of Steeple Bumpstead. Remembered for its “Everybody knows your name” atmosphere, Steeple became a nightlife staple in the city. During the week, the club was host to a very popular Nurses Night as well as College Night. The weekends had people lining up at the door and down the sidewalks. Gus and the club were also heavily involved in sponsoring the local Marines’ Toys for Tots drive along with radio station WORC.

Gus Giordano and Maxwell-Silverman’s recently celebrated their 30th year with a sold out two day celebration…and the Steeple People came out in full force. Good food, dancing, and familiar faces ~ the party was like an impromptu reunion for many in attendance. The dance moves and energy of the crowd proved in no uncertain terms that while Steeple and the Comic Strip are no more, their spirit and memory live on!

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