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Why Some Seattle Music Fans Went Underground in the ‘90s

December 26, 2018

As the last century neared its end, songs from Seattle topped the charts. Seen on MTV and heard over the radio, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Sir Mix-a-Lot acted as ambassadors of a rich music scene that was the envy of teenagers around the globe. But the teenagers who were actually in Seattle didn’t exactly have easy access to the music being made in their city. Because of the Teen Dance Ordinance, passed by the city in the ‘80s, all-ages concerts were prohibitively expensive to produce. And so young music fans were forced underground, or into the suburbs, to find their entertainment. We spoke with Sheila Capestany, who worked as a city hall legislative aide in the late-‘90s, about the ordinance, how it was overturned, and how it forever changed the trajectory of music in Seattle.


Eric Keto

From the Oregon Coast to the North Slope of Alaska, Eric enjoys telling stories from the western edge of the country. His nonfiction video work has been featured on The Atlantic, PBS NewsHour and Alaska Public Media.

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