HUNTRIDGE THEATRE ROOF COLLAPSE
4:30 PM, JULY 28, 1995
Scheduled Event: Circle Jerks, Unwritten Law, China White
The official load in time was 5:30 p.m., but some folks had arrived early to avoid being too rushed in the necessary pre-show checklist, chatting and relaxing with other performers, drinking, setting up and performing sound check.
A casual conversation was interrupted by the loud and disturbing noise which came echoing from above… CREEEEAK! All chatting came to an abrupt halt. The uncomfortable silence was broken with a suggestion to “…get the hell out of here!” As a handful of theatre staff and stagehands were making their rushed pursuit for the exits, the creaking returned. It was much louder and accompanied by a thunderous grinding and snapping sounds from above.
The roof of the Huntridge Theatre was caving in.
As people franticly fled for the exits, they were violently pushed out with a pressured wind gust caused by the collapsing roof. Dust and debris accompanied the seeming last breath of the theatre as she fell into herself after 51 majestic years. The dust began to settle as people ambled around the former parking lot, an overwhelming mess of rubble, confused and attempting to make sense of what happened while trying not to think of what could have…
Thankfully, everyone made it out in time. It was an absolute miracle that the roof caved when it did and not during the sold out show that evening. In true punk rock style, The Circle Jerks gave a free concert in the parking lot for disappointed fans.
A personal account from Nicole Sligar of Shoestring Promotions;
The day the Huntridge roof caved in I was working at a side job. I heard the announcement come over the radio saying the roof had just caved in. I jumped up and left the job without saying a word to my employer. Not many people had cell phones those days so all I could do was call the office. No answer, of course. My heart was in my throat as I made the drive over. Every stop light seemed to be red for an eternity. When I finally arrived the place was surrounded by police and medical response teams. They wouldn’t let me anywhere near the place. Then I spotted him. I ran up to my brother and hugged him and cried like a baby. He was scheduled to work that day. He had slipped out to grab some food for himself and some of the crew guys. As I pulled myself together he recounted the stories from the members of the Circle Jerks. One of the guys was sleeping on the old theatre chairs when he heard the first beam snap. Everyone decided it was best to get the heck out of there. As several of them along with a few of the local crew members were making their way out the side door the roof gave in. The compression literally pushed them the rest of the way out the side door.
The Huntridge was rebuilt and went on to entertain locals for many years. I hope that it will entertain for many more years to come.
Miraculously, no one was killed or hurt. There is a lengthy list of “what if’s” that could have drastically altered that statement. The fact that we are remembering July 28, 1995 as “The day the Huntridge Theatre caved in,” and not “The day my friend died,” is almost unbelievable considering the magnitude of building damage.
Flash forward to present day, July 28, 2013, 18 years after that fateful afternoon, and our beloved Huntridge Theatre is, arguably, in further disrepair than it was in back then. It has been rebuilt before and it will be rebuilt again. Regardless whether you were born and raised here or rode in on one of the many waves that have filled this valley over the last 50 years, no matter how long or short your time here has been, we are all members of the Las Vegas Community and together we will ensure that our history is preserved.
Let The Huntridge continue to stand as the community theatre for all of Las Vegas.