Today in NC State History: Students feel a strong sense of Deja Vu

August 21, 2015
By Chris Saunders

historyIconThough it has been considerably altered through the yeaers, Hillsborough Street has been the center of Wolfpack student nightlife for more than 30 years.

But that wasn’t always the case, as seen on this day 35 years ago when the Technician ran a story celebrating Cafe Deja Vu and the Cameron Village Underground.

“Before the proliferation of the bars on Hillsborough Square, the Cameron Village Underground was the main gathering place for student nightclub entertainment,” the Technician reported. “Now that the vitality of the Square has been extinguished, the Underground has the potential to explode due it its accessibility from campus.”

Cafe Deja Vu was a staple music venue for local musicians in Raleigh. The club served “as an outlet for local musicians to get good,” Doug Brinson, Cafe’s manager, told the Technican. “They have to be bad somewhere and that’s what we’re here for.”

The club proved to be a viable home to the Raleigh jazz scene, due in large part to the owners, Peter and Robin Ingram, holding an interest in preserving the genre, according to the Technician. And it claimed to have the first big-screen television around, on which patrons could watch Wolfpack games.

resolverThe cafe had become a private club almost a year earlier, in October 1979, after it had been in business for eight years. Brinson said the change had taken place so Cafe Deja Vu could sell mix drinks along with beer. NC State students had to pay a $5 membership fee to enjoy such perks, and the general public had to pay $10 for an annual membership.

“Members take better care of the place,” Brinson said in the Technician. “There is not as much vandalism as there used to be. We’re not trying to be exclusive; we just want to sell mixed drinks and this (club status) is a technicality in the law.”

Today’s NC State students wouldn’t even know how or even where to find Cafe Deja Vu’s remains. They, along with other deserted venues that from Raleigh’s “Underground” that closed during the 1980s, are located under Cameron Village, as was chronicled in a 2008 post by Goodnight Raleigh.

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