The Spaceland Ballroom Grand Opening
The Spaceland Ballroom, 295 Treadwell St., Hamden. (203) 288-6400, spacelandballroom.com. Fri., March 15: Mighty Purple Acoustic Duo. Sat., March 16: Mile Marker Zero, Dynasty Electris. Sat., March 23: Head With Wings (record release show), Kindred Queer, Ports of Spain. Friday, March 29: Zammuto (from the Books), Valgeir Sigorosson.
As the Space in Hamden gears up to celebrate its 10th anniversary as a live music venue in April, owner Steve Rodgers is not content to sit around and let his club(s) stagnate. In 2011 Rodgers opened the Outer Space, an intimate room with a bar just a few steps from the original venue that gives over-21 patrons the option to have a beer (which has always been a no-no at the all-ages-friendly Space). Since then, as you might expect, business has improved dramatically. In fact, business has been so healthy that Rodgers is opening a third, larger venue in the building next door to the Outer Space. This one is going to be called the Spaceland Ballroom, and it has a capacity just under 300. And just like the Outer Space, it's going to serve beer. The Grand Opening is Friday, March 15, featuring Rodger's own band Mighty Purple, in duo form.
"I'm excited about a mid-sized venue opening in the New Haven area," says promoter Mark Nussbaum of Manic Productions who has already booked a handful of events at the ballroom, including Akron/Family, !!! and Zammuto (feat. members of the Books). "It opens the doors to bringing in a lot of bands too big for the Space and too small for Toad's Place."
This was a tier of bands that probably would've played Daniel Street Club in Milford before it closed in early 2012, but has struggled to find an appropriately-sized venue since.
Rodgers has had the idea for the Ballroom in his head for a while, but it wasn't until the company formerly rooted in the warehouse next door to the Outer Space restructured and gave up the property that the dream became a reality.
"As soon as I finished building the Outer Space I thought, "Man, I wish I had that building next door so that we could be versatile enough to start doing bigger shows," Rodgers says. "When [the previous tenants] moved out, my landlord gave me the right to take it over. If I said no to that it'd probably be another five or 10 years until it came up again. I just felt like going for it. I'm not exactly sure what motivates me to do things."
Aside from size issues, another reason the Ballroom has been built was to keep the original Space as the all-ages, safe haven for younger music fans that it's always been.
"A lot of the local promoters kept coming to me and asking if we could get booze at the Space for a night, and I really didn't want to," says Rodgers. "I wanted to maintain the all-ages, alcohol-free environment. I didn't want to compromise that."
Even before an official opening, there's been an outpouring of support for the project. First, there's been an flood of area promoters who want to book shows there, including a few that Rodger's hadn't yet been aware of. But it was the overwhelming encouragement from the public, particularly via a Kickstarter campaign last year, that really made the difference.
"I was pretty humbled," says Rodgers. "I put up a lofty goal and we exceeded it. It made me feel like I was doing the right thing because people were getting behind it. People are excited about it. It's very reassuring."
The new venue is connected to the Outer Space by a hallway, so if the beer that will be served at the bar in the Ballroom isn't fancy enough for your tastes (or if you need to escape a band that's too loud for your delicate eardrums), you can still hop next door and pick from a selection of 100 craft beers. Or have a smoke on the patio. The Outer Space is also set to increase its tap lines soon. The growth in Treadwell Business Park is seemingly infectious.
The ballroom was renovated with the help of Hamden's Urban Miners, using antique trim wood from old buildings from nearby places like Bridgeport, and even some stained glass windows from Craig's List. It's been transformed from a warehouse to a turn-of-the-century church hall of sorts. It's got a real deal P.A., lighting and production capabilities. Pretty soon it's going to have a kitchen too.
A soft opening was held last week to make sure everything's working properly. It would appear that all systems are go.
"It was crazy, but I better get used to it," says Rodgers.