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Teen dance club marks its 10th year

The Backline, Silver Creek's teen dance club, is celebrating its 10th year in business.

Located in the historic Geitner Theater, The Backline opened in July 1997 after a year of renovations.

The anniversary is the realization of owners Matt and Karen Bogosian's vision that they could provide a safe, supervised environment for teenagers. The teen club is open from 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The mission remains the same, except for a growing need for young people to have a place to enjoy music and socialize.

"We remember growing up here and wishing we had a place to go with our friends," Matt Bogosian said.

They see no end to their vision. "We can't imagine not having The Backline," Matt Bogosian said.

They have noticed some changes in the clientele frequenting the club -- they are more demanding about the music they like to hear.

Karen Bogosian said the kids have changed in positive ways.

"They are less 'cliquey' and more accepting of each other," she said.

Years ago, she said, teens had a tendency to dress similarly, but now they are more individual in their fashion choices. Styles range from black Gothic to ponytails and pastel sweaters.

"And boys dance," said Matt Bogosian, who recalled that during his high school days, the boys rarely danced -- "except for a slow number with a girl."

Now boys join in on the dance floor.

"They can teach us some new moves," Karen Bogosian said.

One of the oddities of the generation is its embrace of tradition, such as the familiar polka sound of the "Chicken Dance," Matt Bogosian said. "We play some of those old favorites after the crowd is warmed up. The kids love it."

The Backline will soon open its doors to preteens on Friday evenings, featuring entertainment for middle-school-age kids.

The Backline adults runs a tight ship: no alcohol, no coats past the check room, and if you leave the building you cannot return.

The Bogosians said there have been few problems.

"Word gets out that we're strict," said Paul Bogosian, Matt's father. "Kids know better than to try and get away with anything."

The Backline is a family affair. In addition to Paul and Sue Bogosian, Matt's parents, Alex, 7, and Zak, 8, the children of Matt and Karen, have joined the staff.

The Backline is a haven for young bands to try out new music onstage.

Band Night, held once a month, easily attracts 200 kids, with 50 to 100 there on regular Fridays and Saturdays.

Friday night is focused on those who are 15 or younger, and Saturdays are for the older teens.

Both Matt and Karen are Silver Creek High School graduates. Matt's love of music started at a young age. He played professionally with Leslie West and Mountain of "Mississippi Queen" fame.

Karen was one of the founders of the Silver Creek Children's Fair -- the annual daylong program held each June, featuring children's programs, vendors and free entertainment.

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