My heart aches, a terrible terrible ache after the news of the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire. Although I have not personally been to this space, I thought about the many ones that I have been lucky to be a part of and about my dreams of opening my own.
Ghost Ship Collective Space before the fire.
I think of how these spaces allow for youth and adult of all ages to come together and experience community when it seems like that is missing in other aspects of our lives.
I think of how for once people take chances on the “inexperienced” and the “weird” and give them a platform to express themselves.
I think of how these spaces have flourished and have the opportunity to support women, people of color, queer, trans folk, and outcasts in general in ways that traditional venues fail to do. Ghost Ship was an example of an inclusive space that provided an alternative and a safer space for members of these communities, including 22-year old transgender artist Cash Askew, half of the band Them Are Us Too among the few.
It’s true, these spaces aren’t perfect at all. Many times they’re illegal and not up to building codes or standards. They’re downright risky, but they exist in a capitalist system that makes it difficult for DIY inclusive spaces to exist, especially in areas where rent is continuing to increase, housing is a disaster, and gentrification is abound.
These spaces say yes we have bills to pay but yes I want to take a chance on you and not decide who gets a platform based on my financial needs. And no you may not be able to afford the suggest donation fee but yes I want you to still have these experiences and be a part of this community.
These spaces say to the outcast – you matter, you are important, we want you in our community, and we value you art. These messages are so important now, especially after recent events that have individuals feeling more terrified for their life than ever.
Let us not go and condemn these spaces or shut them down, but let’s figure out ways to support them because for a true music and arts scene to flourish, these spaces must exist. For some these spaces are all that we can hold on to, all that give us hope in a society that does not appreciate or acknowledge us. We simply just cannot let them disappear.