A fire at Oakland Ghost Ship last Friday (12/2/16) during an electronic music performance has left 36 people dead so far and many injured and missing.
“According to the Oakland Fire Department, this fire has taken more lives than any in the city’s history. And yet for many of us, these spaces are what have kept us alive. In a world that demands its inhabitants to be a certain way, think a certain way, or live a certain way, we gravitate to the spaces that say: Welcome. Be yourself. For the tormented queer, the bullied punk, the beaten trans, the spat-upon white trash, the disenfranchised immigrants and young people of color, these spaces are a haven of understanding in a world that doesn’t understand — or can’t, or doesn’t seem to want to try.”
I am so heartbroken. It’s been so confusing and hard to comprehend the news these past few days, especially living across the country. San Francisco Bay Area spaces like these got me through high school, and they’re so important. I truly never feel safer than I do at little diy bay area music spaces, and so this just feels like a slap in the face. I know that those who lost their lives or were injured in the fire likely felt the same way. I know they attended shows feeling safe within an inclusive and loving community of artists not scared of not up to code spaces. Media coverage that describes reckless children and seems baffled as to why anyone would attend a show in a “dangerous” warehouse is so fucking clueless.
For one there is almost NOWHERE LEFT. Where can small bands play in San Francisco? Where can we go to enjoy music for free or less than $8? For art to flourish there must be these little spaces, and they’re constantly being threatened. SUB/mission was forced to close, Honey Hive is constantly dealing with threat of closure, Bottom of the Hill has to fight developers and tech leeches who want to buy up all of San Francisco and don’t seem to realize they’re sucking all the life out of a beautiful thing.
But still art and music won’t cease to exist with nowhere to go. Beautiful things will be kept alive by passionate, beautiful people who are fighters and who care deeply. They move into the spaces that they can. Oakland Ghost Ship was a testament to the passion of wonderful individuals who realize that art is necessary for life and that inclusion is nessecary for art.
So please please don’t criticize or question the judgement of those who spend time at tiny house shows or in unfinished warehouses. Celebrate us and protect the few spaces we have left to enjoy music and feel safe and included. And PLEASE always always make and love art.
In honor of the dead and injured I will be writing a few follow up articles about my own memories of SF/Bay Area diy spaces and why they’re so damn important.