A Love Story — an excerpt from “Dive”

My sick and twisted love story about the Beautiful People, seedy nightlife and music of the early 90s Seattle scene at the Off Ramp Music Cafe.

Shelly Underwood
Photo by Pam Woolard

This is a love story. My sick and twisted love story. My love letter to the place and the people, in a time that was unforgettable. A time and place I gained lifelong friends. A time and place that history was made and became legendary. A time and place I feel privileged to have been a small part of.

I want to share my love story. I want to honor the friends I made, acquaintances, musicians, the shows, the drunks at the bar, the Sunday Drag Queens, the people in the back row. I want to honor any and all people that made the Off Ramp what it was. The exceptional. The atrocious. The unseemly.

Everyone knows about the “grunge” greats like Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and they were great don’t get me wrong. But, they were a small part of what the Seattle music scene really was. There were other incredible bands that were lesser known like Gruntruck and My Sisters Machine who, in my opinion, were the epitome of the definition of “grunge” but didn’t garner the same success, and I believe toured with almost all of the bigger names.

There were industrial bands like Rorschach Test and the Pleasure Elite. Female-fronted bands like Goodness with a pop feel, and Lazy Susan that had some twang. Black Happy with two drummers, horns and a whole lot of energy. Dr. Unknown who were straightforward rock. Sweaty Nipples were just a good time. All these bands and many more packed clubs every time they played.

My friends, the Beautiful Ones, as I like to call them; they were a furiously loyal, protective, incestuous tribe. They were artists, students, losers, alcoholics and drug addicts, weekend partiers, bitches and assholes, strippers, dealers, gay, straight, bi, sluts and man whores. They…we…were the makeup of this wonderfully dysfunctional family.

This is for the Beautiful People. You know who you are. My tribe. The tribe of amazing and unforgettable creatures from all walks of life. Every one of them had a story to tell and who helped create mine. Without the Beautiful People there wouldn’t have been an Off Ramp.

“We are all here my friends. All dead and spaced but all so beautiful. We burn that mountain down. And always pump for peace when possible. We bite ourselves and bite our dogs. And stretch the flesh unmovable. We are all here my friends. Alive and spaced but all so beautiful” — Monster Magnet

Photo of an Off Ramp T-shirt from 1993

**This is an excerpt from my upcoming book Dive. More blogs from and about the Off Ramp and the early 90s in Seattle will be published here.

West Seattleite. Authority on underbelly of 90s Seattle scene. Art Institute of Seattle graduate. Writer for defunct Rocket Magazine. Animal welfare advocate.