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Photo by Collins Laatsch

Boyz II (Angsty) Men

Calling all of you who occasionally dust off your CDs and your pipes to Dashboard Confessional. Those who crank up the Brand New in the car, even if you’re simultaneously rolling up your window. The ones that don’t want to wait another 11 months to embrace their inner Gerard Way at Halloween.

You have a safe space now. You have a home.

Sad Boyz is the place where, once a month, hundreds of people can be found getting down to being down.

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T

he true inspiration behind the name of the popular Skully’s event isn’t any of the aforementioned emo heroes.

It’s actually Santa.

Around this time last year, Varun Ramanujam and Chase Clymer were doing a pretty typical thing for the two pals—playing old Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, and Blink-182 records at his Short North apartment. Finding themselves desirous of a way to head out on the town without changing soundtracks, they couldn’t help but brainstorm whether an “emo night” would work in Columbus—beyond just them and their friend circle.

“At that exact moment, someone dressed in a Santa outfit walked into the bar and we laughed, and said, ‘Wow, isn’t Santa just the saddest boy? No one ever gets him a gift.’ And then it just clicked,” Ramanujam said.

That sense of humor mixed with a sense of loyalty to the music permeates the event, which is now one of the most well-attended in the city.

Now, hundreds of people flood the dance floor at Skully’s, a scene that must be witnessed in person to gather the full mania of it all: people rejoicing—nay, reveling—in the music of their misunderstood youth.

“There’s a nostalgia factor to it,” Ramanujam said. “Some of these albums and bands got people, including ourselves, through the awkward high school years and beyond. Being able to belt them out in the comfort of a bar with a couple hundred others makes those angsty years feel justified.”

Ironically, added Clymer, jumping back into the past is a little cathartic.

“Fast forward 10 or so years and all of those people are out of college, starting jobs, starting their lives—this event gives them the opportunity to get in touch with that weird teenager they once were,” he said. “Sad Boyz is like time traveling back to a time and place where life didn’t weigh so heavily on you.”

Both admit that the night started with little expectations, but it didn’t take long to realize they’d found a vein in the now somewhat crowded scene of dance parties. The first time they hit capacity at Ace of Cups, aided by the guest DJs they’d acquired for the evening—members of Cartel and Hit the Lights—was a double shot of validation, said Clymer. Now, their on-stage visuals from Alex Trimpe and images of the crowd from Anne Dies are as much a part of the event’s personality as the music.

No question, the marketing day gigs held by both founders have helped push the brand at a brisk pace. This summer they served as the Official Fan Afterparty for the Alternative Press Magazine Awards that were held in the city. But mostly, it’s that they’ve clearly recognized a giant crowd of people who are beyond thrilled to come to the Short North and let their sad, sullen teenager out—albeit wearing a look of palpable joy.

“Anytime you can grab your best friend and belt out the chorus to your favorite pop punk anthem—you’re going to have a smile on your face,” Clymer said.

For more about the next Sad Boyz (11.30), visit facebook.com/sadboyzcolumbus.

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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