Music to Your Ears
By Laura Marrich
The Kids are All Right--An article in last week's Journal confirmed that the city is purchasing the Ice House building for use as an all-ages, teen-run music center, similar to Warehouse 21 in Santa Fe. The 30,000-square-foot space sits at 506 First Street NW. It's within spitting distance of the Cell Theatre, Wool Warehouse and MLK/Roma bridge, making it an ideal hub for all-ages music events in the Downtown area.
Ironically, the former gentleman's club had long been a thorn in the mayor's side, declaring the Ice House's infamous free speech-themed outdoor mural an "eyesore." (You've got to admit the inside wasn't too hard on the eyes, though, was it Marty? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) The dance poles are set to come down in a major renovation that will address possible hazardous materials and structural problems.
Unfortunately, not everyone is into the idea.
According to the May 26 article, City Councilor Michael Cadigan is quoted as saying, "It's a horrendous waste of money ... I think if we wanted to do teen dance programs Downtown, there are abundant unused spaces, like the Convention Center."
Uh ... teen dance programs?
As much as I'd like to believe all these kids need is a good, old-fashioned Sadie Hawkins every now and again to keep them out of harm's way, Councilor Cadigan's comments bely a much deeper, City Hall-wide ignorance of how important self-supported arts and music really is to our youth. It's the same shortsighted bullshit that threatened (and continues to threaten) the livelihood of all-ages music venues in Albuquerque.
You guys have got to get with the program. Do you have kids? Do you ever, I don't know, talk to them? I'm only putting the screws to you because this is an election guide issue, and it may be the only time suits like you pick up a community-supported paper like this.
I talk to these kids all the time. Left to their own devices, I think I can tell you what the proposed space wouldn't be--some awful "Dance, Dance, Dance, It's a Teen Thing" barn with piped-in top 40 music and a Pepsi sponsorship. That's what a roomful of adults came up with, and frankly, it sucks.
While their model is somewhat convoluted, the mayor is right to look toward the kids in Santa Fe at Warehouse 21. (See Amy Dalness' Newscity piece, "A New Era," April 27-May 3, for more on the venue.) They've got a dedicated drug- and alcohol-free entertainment space, where everything--from the music and art to the business and promotion--is produced and coordinated by the kids who hang out there. The result is nothing short of a community-building goldmine: a creative outlet for teens that's weighted with real responsibility. It’s something they can feel proud of. Hell, even us meddling adults can be proud of it--but we’ve got to give these kids a fair shot first. Let’s get this thing off the ground.
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-