We’re frequently asked what our motivation was to build the space.
Our two main goals were;
A: to create a safe space where people would feel welcome no matter their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, income or ability
B: to create an environment where artists would be respected and valued
We LOVE music and we try our best to support musicians (within our limited budget and skills). We try to provide good sound, lighting and sightlines so performers can be seen and heard the way they should be. The space was built and is run by volunteers so that we can offer it for free, allowing bands to keep 100% of the proceeds at the door. Our only request to bands is that whenever possible tickets are on a sliding scale or pay-what-you-can basis to reduce financial barriers to the community.
Money is just one barrier to participating in the music scene. I know many people who stop going to shows because they feel unwelcome, unsafe or have too many negative experiences. I know people who’ve stopped coming to shows at SubClub for these same reasons. This is completely counter to why we opened the space and it has to stop.
In order to create a safe environment we can’t be open to sexism, homophobia, racism, or ageism. We can’t be open to violence or intimidation toward our guests and volunteers. We can’t be open to the destruction of our space. I think these values are well understood and embraced by the vast majority of people that come to SubClub – until they’re intoxicated, then community values seem to go down the drain.
Things generally run pretty smoothly at SubClub but when we do have issues 90% of the problems are caused by people who are drunk. This is a little ironic considering we are an ALL-AGES space that doesn’t permit drugs or alcohol inside the venue. Unfortunately some people interpret this to simply mean they should get drunk before they come in. When people stay sober we have no problems. When we have events where people are intoxicated we’ve ended up with cans, cigarette butts, puke and piss in our parking lot THAT OUR VOLUNTEERS HAVE TO CLEAN UP. Worse than this is the aggressive, abusive behavior that audience members and volunteers have been subjected to at the hands of intoxicated people.
I care deeply for people struggling with anxiety, depression, and addiction and I understand why people use drugs and alcohol. It’s deeply rooted in our culture and one of the most mainstream, bonding behaviors we have. When we’re drunk or high it makes us care less about what other people think and feel – that’s probably why we’re drawn to it, but we want SubCulture Club to be all about caring MORE – about art, about people, and about community.
This isn’t about disrespecting people who like to party. There’s a time and a place for everything and I strongly believe in letting people live any way they want to. Every other space from bars, to basements, arenas, theaters, and outdoor festivals combine music and drinking. We want SubCulture Club to be a truly ALTERNATIVE space. One space where you don’t have to worry about the pressures and behaviors associated with partying.
I hope people can understand that SubClub isn’t a house and we’re not throwing parties. It isn’t a bar – we don’t have paid staff and bouncers to deal with people who’ve had a few too many. This is a community arts space, one that is specifically open to underage people and people looking for a safe place. We respectfully ask that if you don’t feel you can spend a couple of hours with us without imbibing then please attend shows at another venue and let this space exist for people seeking an alternative.
For people in recovery finding sober spaces and sober communities isn’t just a matter of preference, it can be a matter of life and death. Hundreds of people die in Victoria every year because of their addictions but when they try to make positive changes in their lives they often find themselves isolated, especially from the music scene. We want to be a safe space for people who are in recovery, or seeking a pathway there.
So what are we asking in specific terms? That you NEVER bring drugs or alcohol into our space. That you don’t drink or use drugs in our parking lot. That you don’t come into our space if you’re intoxicated.
Trying to police behavior at events that are open to the public is extremely difficult, so if you care about this space WE NEED YOUR HELP. Let people know what we’re about and encourage them NOT TO COME if they don’t believe in what we’re doing. If you see people who are using in our space, who are obviously intoxicated or who are behaving in an aggressive or threatening manner and you don’t feel comfortable dealing with it yourself then let one of our volunteers know. Please understand that we can’t do this all on our own. If the community can’t get behind this then we’ll have no reason to keep going.
If we get shutdown or choose to close the space it will be because volunteers quit, someone gets hurt, our neighbors get fed up, or the city or cops get involved. I can guarantee you if that happens drugs and alcohol will be the cause. If we lose this space we should stop asking, “Why doesn’t Victoria have any all-ages music spaces”. We all know why.
Thank you all so much for your support and please keep bringing your great art and enthusiasm to SubCulture Club.