In an unlikely union of two of the most loathed subcultures in America, Rolling Stone reports on an afterhours networking group called Dead aHead, in which Wall Street Deadheads come together and unite in their mutual love for the Grateful Dead and...money, I guess.
Hinged on one night at an Irish bar in the Financial District, it’s a terrific story but a terrifying discovery (particularly if you have recently seen The Big Short), this idea of trader hippies uniting as one to listen to a Dead cover band—The Deadbeats—jam out the literal jams. The group, which boasts 350 members, was started in 2012 by investor/Deadhead Deborah Solomon. Membership is $85—that’s the Wall Street speaking, most certainly not the Deadhead—and the piece includes all manner of truly chilling details, including the fact that attendees receive a book with an illustration of “a bear and a skeleton, two iconic Grateful Dead symbols, riding the Wall Street Charging Bull, who sports a peace-symbol earring while carrying a rose in his mouth.”
Like the idea of that unholy mash-up, the group seems truly a collision between the hippie, even socialist ideals of Dead fandom, and the confusing corporate jargon of Wall Street—two things that shouldn’t necessarily make sense together one bit, but totally do in the context of slick quotes such as this one:
“People that work on Wall Street understand relationship management quite well, and anybody that understands the band and communities around live music knows it’s the same exact overtone — the ability to connect and build relationships where you can provide value to people from a sincere place,” said Jesse Guglielmo, a Dead aHead family member and vice president of business development for Modern Guild, an online career-readiness platform. “The wrong people don’t understand that; they’re looking to take advantage of the situation for themselves, and I think Deb has done an incredible job hand-curating a group of professionals that are only interested in finding ways to connect and provide value for each other.”
Given Grateful Dead fans’s politically progressive nature in general—such as basing an entire parking-lot economy on the barter system—one naturally wonders how non-Wall Street Deadheads feel about Dead aHead. Solomon says it’s all love: “We’re all doing this together. We’re really being accepted in the Wall Street community, and we’re also being accepted in the Grateful Dead community. It’s all coming together in that respect.” Nothing says organic community like a “hand-curated” group of finance professionals, I guess!
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Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well show, July 2015, Chicago, via AP.