Update, May 18: Former employees of Starline Social Club, most of whom have been laid off since the pandemic began, called the venue’s announcement about converting into a co-op into question in interviews with KQED. They said they learned about the co-op plans only when owners announced them to the public, and questioned the financial motives in light of the business’ struggles. Read more.
Starline Social Club Reopening in September, Aiming to Become a Worker-Owned Co-Op
Bay Area music fans were devastated when the owners of Starline Social Club put their historic ballroom on the market late last year.
For five years, the venue hosted dance parties, concerts, karaoke, community fundraisers and jazz nights, and became known as a hub for Oakland’s diverse creative scenes. But as the pandemic dragged on and put them in dire financial straits, the owners decided to call it quits. Last October, co-owners Adam Hatch and Drew Bennett told KQED that they hoped that someone would buy the building and keep it as a venue rather than demolish it and turn it into condos.
Fortunately, they were able to reverse that decision, thanks in part to the announcement that businesses in California can return to full capacity in June, and an application to the federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, which will provide substantial relief funding to concert halls and clubs.
The owners of Starline Social Club tell KQED that the venue will be back in action in September, and is in the early stages of converting into a worker-owned co-op. “Through the many months, we have schemed and stressed and hoped for the best,” the owners wrote in a statement. “And from the ashes of that flaming dumpster fire that was 2020 we rise, a glorious Phoenix, made of a 130 year old building and many, many friends.”
They also said they’re currently working on renovations in the space and building a calendar of concerts and events.
“Not having to close is all made possible by the [Small Business Administration] loans, and our hope of securing the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant in the near future,” the statement said. “We are forever grateful for all the folks throughout the industry who stood up and fought for this life-changing grant over the last year.”