High Dive: Historic venue defines downtown

Jackie De Freitas, Avenue Staff Writer | Mar 27, 2019

Demun Jones takes a moment to rest between songs while performing at High Dive in downtown Gainesville on July 20, 2018.  Chris Day, Alligator Staff

Demun Jones takes a moment to rest between songs while performing at High Dive in downtown Gainesville on July 20, 2018.

Chris Day, Alligator Staff


Creaky wooden floors, musical acts and Saturday food truck rallies make up High Dive, a defining feature of downtown Gainesville.

Located on Southwest Second  Avenue, the venue has gone through plenty of phases and name changes. In the ‘80s, Spectrum Disco was the name and being a dance club for gay clientele was the game. After that, in 1992, the venue was called the Covered Dish until 2004 when it changed to Common Grounds. Common Grounds ran its course, and the owners moved on to other things.

“They approached me to help keep the venue alive, as it is so vital to the local music scene, and they didn’t want to see it closed again,” Pat Lavery said.

Lavery, the executive promoter at High Dive, books the musical performances at the wood-clad event space.

When Common Grounds ended, High Dive began (except for the small hiccup where the place was called Double Down Live, and a Las Vegas saloon ordered a cease and desist on the grounds of its trademark infringement).

Common Grounds had largely the same setup as High Dive but “was a little rougher around the edges,” Lavery said.

Since making the switch from Common Grounds to High Dive, considerable aesthetic changes to the venue have been made. When it was Common Grounds, the venue catered to a larger punk rock clientele, as that was a time when bands like Against Me! and Hot Water Music and labels like No Idea and Fueled By Ramen were active in Gainesville. High Dive has two walls of old show flyers from both the Covered Dish and Common Grounds in the hallway by the bathroom.

Past performance speaks for High Dive’s reputation: The Black Keys, Green Day, The Avett Brothers and Paramore. If a popular band stops in town, it will probably jam out at High Dive. Not only is the venue the place to see more famous acts, but local artists find support there as well. Gainesville-based groups like The Forum, The Hails and The Savants of Soul are just some local acts to perform at High Dive in the future.

High Dive reflects Gainesville’s eclectic style not only with its choices of musical acts, but also its history of revolving style. From dance club to punk place to indie and local music venue, whatever it has been called, High Dive is the beacon of the Gainesville music scene.