After closing its doors in 2016, rehearsal studio and live music venue Rubber Gloves is set to reopen this August following a renovation that includes new sound equipment, rehearsal rooms, indoor and outdoor stages and a new bar.
The venue first opened in 1997 by a couple who took over the space that formerly housed The Argo, a music venue that had closed then. By taking over the space, Rubber Gloves started to do their own shows.
Josh Baish, who is the creative director of the project and oversaw the renovations, previously worked as a bartender on Fry Street in the late nineties, and saw the potential of the space.
“My grandparents had passed away and left me some money for college, but I had already dropped out at that point,” he said. “So, I took it and bought this place and with the intention of basically turning it into what you see today.”
With the reopening, Baish wants Rubber Gloves to “be your outlet” when it comes to music.
“We’re a blank canvas, and we let the musicians dictate what happens, I have no control over that,” Baish said. “Nor do I want any control over that.”
While he is not a musician, Baish said he is a music lover and does not want the venue to lose its identity. While he said he would love to see Rubber Gloves merchandise in major stores, the ultimate goal is to put Denton back on the map.
Giving the opportunity for Rubber Gloves to reopen is Rob Houdek, a UNT graduate, who invested into the venue after his son’s band played there before it originally closed.
Houdek, who retired in 2013 and moved back here in 2014, said music is “part of the fabric” of Denton. He said he felt compelled to give back to the community and investing was the way to do so.
“This side of town has so much potential,” Houdek said.
After investing, Houdek said he decided to keep the original building because if they bulldozed the area “the music would have escaped.”
While Houdek did not pursue music as part of his academic career, he is a member of the UNT Alumni Association board, and is hoping to build more future relations with the school, stressing that they “need to be engaged in this community.”
While Baish and Houdek are behind the vast majority of the rebirth of Rubber Gloves, there has been grassroots following of the establishment dating back nearly two decades. Someone who has followed the history of Rubber Gloves is Chad Withers, an ex-patron since 2001, and a recent hire for its relaunch as a booker.
Knowing he had the opportunity to be involved with the restoration of one of his favorite Denton locations, Withers said he knew he could be a good fit.
“I kind of made my pitch about what I can bring to the table, and my thoughts aligned with Rob and Josh for what their vison for the club is going to be,” he said.
At time of the original closing, Withers said he was “bummed, really sad” due to how much the establishment had meant to him over the years.
“Part of that went away with it,” he said. “The spirit was still here.”
The fact that the crew is able to relaunch in such a big way is what excites Withers the most. He said he views Rubber Gloves as an “outgrowth of the community,” and said being able to have a lot of the resources and elements of downtown places is what will make Rubber Gloves able to reach their artistic goals.
“As far as a place like this, it’s not just a bar but also a community hub,” Withers said. “That is what we are striving for, to be a place to serve the community.”