Pit-A-Palooza: A Celebration of the Harvard Square Pit and Those Who Called it Home
Read DigBoston Executive Editor Jason Pramas’ critical take on this event: Why This Pit Kid Is Not Going to ‘Pit-A-Palooza’.
Now here is an event fit for more than a few former DigBoston contributors.
Long live the Pit! Here’s what the organizers are planning …
The City of Cambridge, City Councillor Marc McGovern, Cambridge resident and author, Jen Deaderick and the Harvard Square Business Association are excited to announce Pit-A-Palooza, a celebration of the notorious and revered Harvard Square “Pit” and those who called it home. The festivities kick off at 6pm in The Pit and adjacent Dunster Street. Relive the glory days of the 80s and 90s and dance, reminisce, sing and make some noise! Bring your old photos! Dress the part – drag out your fishnets, leather and studs! Show your kids how cool you were!
In conjunction with the honoring this much loved and storied gathering spot, the City of Cambridge has proclaimed June 25, 2022 to be “Pit Rat Day”.
In addition to recollections from those who experienced the Pit first hand, Pit-A-Palooza will feature a performance from Nothing But Enemies, a Boston-based punk band, a beer garden hosted by The Hourly Oyster House, and a tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture show by Full Body Cast who have been performing at Rocky Horror screenings since 1984. Party the night away as we spin your favorite New Wave and 90s classics, including Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Blondie, New Order and more! A full schedule will be announced soon!
In addition to the Hourly Oyster House, delicious food choices on Dunster Street include Saloniki Greek, Bon Me, Oggi Gourmet, Sally Sandwiches+Blackbird Doughnuts, Mike’s Pastry and Pavement Coffeehouse.
McGovern said, “The Pit in the mid-80’s was a special place for me and so many other young people in and around Cambridge. It was a community, with all the pleasures and complications that came with it. When I was a spiked haired, leather jacket-wearing punk, I never would have thought that I would one day be a Cambridge City Councillor and former Mayor, organizing Pit-A-Palooza. Once a Pit Rat, always a Pit Rat!”
Cambridge resident and author of She the People, Jen Deaderick added, “I spent two years on a committee discussing Harvard Square as an historic district. When Boomers would start getting sentimental about the good old days of folk music and hermit bars, I’d ask ‘What about my Harvard Square with all the punk rockers in The Pit making noise and intimidating the tourists?’ This commemoration grew out of that question. History is multi-layered. I love that I live in a city that recognizes that.”
The Pit, a submerged gathering spot behind the MBTA headhouse entrance, was created in 1982 as part of the Red Line expansion. It soon became home to a ragtag group of young people from Cambridge and the surrounding area, who, because of their choice in music and dress, were often outsiders in their own communities. These “Pit Rats”, as they became known, formed their own dynamic community that resulted in life-long relationships and camaraderie. We must acknowledge that in addition to the positive, energized community of The Pit, not all was perfect. Some of the rats were victims of violence and sexual assault and their experiences are the dark side of this otherwise positive experience.
Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association stated, “The City of Cambridge is currently in the process of restoring the Harvard Square kiosk and creating a new plaza. Although we will lose the physical appearance of the pit, this area will continue to be a welcoming place for the community to gather.”
In the coming months, Councillor McGovern will be spearheading an effort to create a bronze plaque to be embedded into the refurbished plaza to commemorate The Pit. Suggested language for the plaque is:
Here gathered between the years 1982 and 2022, the Pit Rats,
a motley crew of punks, riot grrrls, breakdancers, time-warpers,
trouble-makers, slackers, living statues, trash poets and day-dreamers.
Long may they rage.
Saturday, June 25th, 2022 6pm – 10pm Harvard Square “Pit” and Dunster Street