The Space Cadets were there, boogying to the screaming sounds emanating from giant speakers placed at 7th and Hennepin. There were suburban hippies, pipe-smoking intellectuals looking winsome, Punks with feathers hanging from pierced ears, their hair greased for the weekend, a lot of middle-class straights checking out the art scene and the surrounding weirdos, a large contingent of dancers and artists and an array of street folk who stumbled onto the scene and had no trouble at all deciding it was a scene they should make. It’s their scene after all.” – Mike Steele describing the premiere of Shinders to Shinders in the Sept. 20, 1982 edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Shinders to Shinders projected onto the billboard at 7th and Hennepin. Photo – Minneapolis Star Tribune.

This film Shinders to Shinders: A Surreal Portrait of Hennepin Avenue is one strange and amazing little time capsule; it’s an artistic collaboration between a poet, a dancer and a filmmaker that celebrates the seedier side of Minneapolis in the early 1980s. The culture depicted is bygone ’80s sleaze, electronic music, Pac-Man machines, members-only jackets, an adult world now old fashioned in its urban nightmare, like Pottersville from It’s A Wonderful Life. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea – but for those with a voyeuristic streak, this type of nightlife is fascinating. The world of bars, police, drugs, pornography and the sex trade, all choreographed and realized in an absurdist style.

Downtown Minneapolis used to feel like this. This musical fever dream does an apt job of illustrating the fun, adventure, danger and excitement of that era and that geographical location. From 7th to 6th Street, along the Northeast side of Hennepin, this run of approximately a dozen storefronts defined downtown’s culture. The flavor of this block is completely gone now, replaced by shiny metal buildings housing elite restaurants and franchised businesses. Shinders to Shinders is a window to our recent past when urban centers had an individuality, and a relevance to humans, not just commerce.

We are very pleased to take an in-depth look at the movie. We were able to get the people involved to talk about those times, and about living and working on that block while making and presenting the film. We also have a restored version of the original film, as well as an audio commentary with some behind-the-scenes trivia.

A Look Back

Filmmaker Daniel Polsfuss and choreographer Patrick Scully came to Twin Cities PBS studios in Lowertown, Saint Paul to talk about their film, Shinders to Shinders: A Surreal Portrait of Hennepin Avenue, produced nearly 38 years ago.

 

Why would we want this?
When we can have this?

The Movie

Shinders to Shinders captures the vibe of Block E at a time when it needed documenting. Only a few years later, this whole scene was kaput, as the city knocked down our one true strip of sleaze. Allow us to present the original film with a new 2K restoration.

 

Roy McBride standing outside Shinders bookstore.

Audio Commentary

We wanted to give you even more trivia on this time capsule, and asked Patrick and Daniel to record an audio commentary for the film. Enjoy!

 

Roy standing in front of the infamous Moby Dick’s.
The poet waits, watches and listens.

Special Thanks: Pixel Farm
Additional Media: Daniel Polsfuss, Patrick Scully, Minneapolis Star and Tribune
Production Team: Brennan Vance, David Roth
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This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

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Want to stay on the path of reminiscence? Check out “Long Gone Minnesota: 10 Things Our Culture Has Lost.”

In the early 1980s, Minneapolis was home to a slew of pubs and punk-rock venues – so take a trip in a “Pop Culture Time Machine: Downtown Minneapolis, Circa 1981.”

One of those music venues – Jay’s Longhorn – served as ground zero for Minneapolis’ punk and New Wave scene, featuring performances by the likes of Blondie, Iggy Pop, and local bands The Replacements and Husker Du. Discover more about the Jay’s Longhorn in this Q&A with the director who immortalized the venue in a documentary film.