Former Rubber Gloves GM James Shepard Remembers The People Who Made The Place What It Was.
Revered Denton music venue and dive Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios may have officially shut its doors for good on Sunday night, but grief isn’t something that necessarily happens on such a a neat schedule. That’s why we’re sharing today another reminiscence about the adored space, this one from yet another entity who helped make it what it was. From 2006 to 2014, James Shepard was a fixture at RGRS, an employee who wore a variety of titles as part of the business. The title he most often went by, though, was just “Shep.” Here, Shep says his goodbye.
Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios is gone. On Sunday night, an almost 20-year run came to a close.
For a little more than seven years, I was a part of this great run.
I came to Rubber Gloves in 2006 after working for about three years at the well-known Denton bar Lucky Lou’s, right near the UNT campus. I was looking for something different and the music scene, regulars, employees and overall aesthetics at RGRS drew me there. Like so many others in the Gloves family, I would go on to wear a number of hats during my time there. At different times, I was a door guy, a bar-back, a bartender and, for the majority of my time, the general manger.
Throughout those years at RGRS, I learned a lot about myself that had nothing to do with music at all. If not for Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, I may have never finished my bachelor’s or my master’s degree, never fallen madly in love with my extraordinaire wife and never helped welcome the cutest kid ever into this world. RGRS gave me the ability to support myself through two spine surgeries that were accompanied by years of pain. It also gave me the strength to be able to stay sober for over a year and finally get to where I can have one beer and not need to get MC Hammered to have a good time. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, it helped me make and develop an uncountable number of life long friendships.
All this was achieved because Rubber Gloves taught you to be yourself. When you were within those crusted brick walls, nothing else mattered. You could look however you want, and you were free to express yourself how you feel fit.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There was a lot of negative stuff that came with these RGRS jobs. Much of the stress from my job came from money issues and all the baggage that comes with that. No one involved at Gloves ever made much money — neither the owner nor any of his employees — but, for the most part, we were fine with that. Because we loved Rubber Gloves. If we got paychecks a month late or had to get a second job, then so be it. It was for the bigger cause.
Rubber Gloves meant that much to us. We all knew what it did for us, and we knew the joy that it brought to the thousands we welcomed into the building.
Speaking of the building: That was another great contribution to my stress levels while working there. I can’t tell you how many times the plumbing broke or the electrical system went haywire. And, please, do not get me started on those damn air conditioners. Sure, some of this just comes with running a dive bar or a club anywhere, and we dealt with it. Fortunately, we had help: A lot of the musicians who practiced at RGRS over the years paid their bills as electricians, locksmiths, plumbers, air conditioner repairmen and so on; music was a passion for these people, and we were lucky that so many of them were willing to trade their services for room rentals or to just give us massively discounted rates for their efforts.
The community that was built in and around that place was a truly beautiful thing. Its members — people from all walks of life — just wanted RGRS to do well and stay open. Even through alcohol-fueled fights, these people have become my family. I stopped working at RGRS in 2014, but I still speak with much of the staff on a regular basis. Through meals, conversations, dance parties and singalongs, these co-workers morphed into my brothers and sisters. I know I can rely on this group for anything — anything at all.
I know a ton about these people — probably too much, actually. I’m rich with stories and memories from my time at RGRS, the kinds of tales that, if shared, might get me killed. I wouldn’t dare do that, of course. But, if I did, I could die knowing that, no matter what happens from this point on in my life, I have already truly lived. Because, for a short time, I got to be a part of something great.
For that, I am blessed.
Thank you, Rubber Gloves, for making me who I am today. Thank you for giving all of us a chance to be comfortable in our own skin. You’ll be missed, but you’ll never be forgotten.