Walk into The Steam Plant on East 3rd Street in Dayton, just adjacent to the downtown area, and you’ll be quickly thrown into this mindset. It was formerly a Dayton Power & Light steam-generating plant that operated for nearly 80 years before being shuttered and sitting unused, for another thirty years. A new owner bought it, re-imagined it as a venue for private gatherings and weddings, added some steampunk touches to the décor, and, in so doing, created one of the most unique locations in which I’ve had the pleasure of playing music.
Kate and Mark could not have hoped for a more beautiful day to celebrate their wedding. The early part of the reception used the outer grounds for guests to greet one another and have drinks, under a gorgeous azure sky. While the guests mingled outside, I wandered around the venue, thinking about the sheer enormity of the place, and it’s former function of drawing power from heating water.
Heat; steam; power.
Early on, the fathers of the bride and groom chatted with us, offering apologies of a sort that the venue might not have the greatest acoustics, given its cavernous, Grand Central Station size and vibe. Only a few songs into the jazz set we played while the guests ate dinner, it seemed that the sound resonated in a far more intimate way. Once we launched into our regular dance sets and I wandered out from the stage area a bit to hear things as the guests heard them, I was amazed at how the sound of the band was both like playing in a major arena, and, at the same time, like playing in a small, cozy club. I could say it was some magic in that building, or, that Jason & Cory own some pretty stellar sound gear (which they do), but pretty quickly, I came to feel it was the guests themselves. Their happiness and pride at being present to support Kate & Mark’s wedding day contributed to that feedback loop I always write about in these blogs; where our energy playing the music is absorbed by the dancing crowd, sending that energy back to us, elevating our playing even more, and on and on.
The dancers grew warmer, sweating with the vigor of their movement, generating the power that drove our playing. Grooving with my wonderful and talented friends, I was hot and sweaty too, generating power that flowed from my fingers, through the guitar and amp, and back to the crowd.
Heat; steam; power.
So too with the happy couple themselves. One could easily see the passion and love these two feel for one another—a potent love that seemed right at home in that massive power plant. If I have one bit of advice for them, and all the newlywed couples who grace us with the good fortune of playing at their receptions, it is this: don’t jump too quickly to the analogy that the passions of new marriage may also fade from the landscape like the steam-powered plants of the world.
When doing a little research for this entry, I looked up information about the history of The Steam Plant, and steam power in general. That’s when I was reminded that in all of the ultra-modern power plants of our modern era, steam turbines still generate the power we consume each day. In nuclear power plants, it’s the steam generated by the fuel rods that goes on to drive turbines that create electricity.
A steam-powered world isn’t an alternate reality; it’s everyday life. Passions will shift and change as your relationship ages, but the power of those later passions is every bit as strong as the giddy trembling of new love. Old love can be mighty powerful too, my friends. The way it’s used may change, but there will always be heat; there will always be steam; there will always be power.