With the recent closing of The Pub & Grill at Santa Fe Brewing Company, Cowgirl's scaled-back hours, the criminal underuse of Warehouse 21, the absence of venues that accommodate both drinkers and underage fans, and a population that has a hell of a time getting out of its homes, Santa Fe's nightlife is heading in a dangerous direction. Too many events are geared at tourists and the 40-plus set, while the 20-somethings are lucky to get one decent show a week.
That's bad. Fortunately, the After Hours Alliance—a collective of promoters, performers and those just plain sick of a stale scene—has come together to fight back and make Santa Fe's nightlife a sustainable and exciting affair for local youth.
"It started with a simple question, and that was: 'What's the fucking problem?'" AHA member Daniel Werwath tells SFR. "Our nightlife is sickly and weak."
AHA formed last spring to offer promoters and performers a hub for cross-promotion and networking, as well as a way to tap into the resources of various other collectives, including Team Everything, The Process, High Mayhem Emerging Arts and Meow Wolf.
AHA plans to micro-fund certain events. For example, say a promoter wants to bring a totally amazing band to town, but is concerned about losing money. The promoter could apply for funding from AHA. If AHA approves funding, the promoter would have one less thing to worry about.
Though AHA doesn't actually have a budget yet, its members are actively pursuing grant money.
For now, AHA's extensive network alone can make the difference between a killer, packed show and a cricket-chirpin' shitstravaganza. It's kind of like AHA quietly has the backs of events that might otherwise head to other markets.
According to Meow Wolf member Vince Kadlubek, "The peace of mind is invaluable…being involved has given me this confidence when it comes to booking shows that may have seemed daunting in the past."
With access to AHA's promotions network, Kadlubek has booked Los Angeles indie-rock duo No Age (on Sub Pop Records!) for Jan. 28 at VFW. A show of this caliber is a big deal, and is exactly the kind of thing AHA envisions happening on a regular basis. Furthermore, this is the kind of show Santa Fe desperately needs.
Santa Fe doesn't lack in the culture department, but not many young people are aching to check out flamenco in a hotel lobby. The city's venues have a tendency to stick with what works, and that thing is usually one specific genre. All the time. Every single night.
"We're not saying we want to take away from anything or even change the things that work," The Process curator Red Cell tells SFR. "We just want to add to the nightlife and make it better for not only ourselves, but future generations."
AHA expects to eventually expand its reach to those who are frequently left out of the music scene: under-21ers. If Santa Fe's underage people had the chance to see more quality touring acts, they might actually start bands of their own (and create a subculture I believe is sorely absent in our town).
"What we're really missing is an amazing venue with separate entrances for all-ages and drinkers," AHA member Shannon Murphy adds. "If someone with all kinds of money is out there reading this and wondering how they can make this town better, they should probably just open up a really great venue."
Of course, all AHA's ventures will take time, money and commitment on multiple levels.
In the meantime, I’m pumped, and I pray AHA’s ideas pan out. Otherwise, I’m gonna dye my hair blue, get a nose ring and move to San Francisco.
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