a charlotte street 15 year anniversary project considering the history and future of artist-driven pioneering in Kansas City and the changing nature of the city's "frontiers"
Sure, Power and Light District just isn’t my scene. Honestly, the place totally grosses me out and generally, I avoid it altogether. When I visited the “Kansas City Live!” section of P&L on a packed Saturday night, it seemed many people opted to leave their inhibitions “in the minivan” as one of their slogans suggest. According to the dress code, men can’t wear sweatpants or bandanas – but female bartenders are excused from having to wear any pants at all. On a weekend night, it’s a couple blocks of concrete boxes inundated with short dresses and wrinkled khakis dancing the night away into a drunken fervor. And on a Monday afternoon, it’s virtually empty.
I left at the end of the night on Saturday thinking more and more about how anonymous this bar-with-some-bars-in-it really feels. Despite the space being full of generic national chains, it is touted as being a main tourist attraction to Kansas City. I’ve been photographing P&L using my hands to crop out the signs of the businesses that occupy the space because I am not convinced that they really say anything substantial about Kansas City. Instead, I think the fact that we are willing to bulldoze original shops and restaurants to absorb a prefabricated entertainment district with asphalt to park our cars on – and call it a “Downtown Renaissance” – does.
All photos by Emily Henson