This city is terrified of young people, but it's even more terrified of losing them. I am 19, and a stranger recently thanked me for being in Santa Fe—as if I had voluntarily entered a war zone.
Why is this city so inhospitable to the underage? First of all, it's expensive, and if we're going to be starving, many of us would rather do it in, say, San Francisco. A lack of local hangouts contributes to that kind of escapism. Under-21-friendly means cost-free, drug-free and alcohol-free—and by this definition, Santa Fe lacks under-21-friendly loitering, let alone nightlife.
But it's a problem some Santa Feans are working to change. Meow Wolf and Warehouse 21 seem to have been born in response to this crisis. Vince Kadlubek, Meow Wolf's band promoter, speculates that Warehouse 21's failure is rooted in a bad business model that takes 60 percent of the door price for upper administration, making it impossible for the local, straight-edge promoters or industrious youngsters to support themselves or their operations. The problem facing Meow Wolf is the lack of a venues to support the bands they attract.
"Without a venue," Kadlubek explains, "nightlife is always going to be a culture of drinking and spending money, not spectacular or memorable." Meow Wolf's under-21 shows have been limited to Rouge Cat, an underground gay bar (literally underground: It's in a basement); Santa Fe Sol Stage and Grill, which is far away and hard to find; and Corazón, which is now a bakery. But these are not under-21 venues, they are simply bars with a kiddie table or a roped-off playpen where anxious teens can look on enviously while the adults get drunk. Under-21 nightlife that mimics the nightlife found in bars doesn't exist, so let's make one! Serve shots of espresso instead of shots of whiskey. Make it affordable or flexible for work-trade opportunities. That's how you get the community involved. A drug- and alcohol-free venue is an investment.
Teens are not an untapped money market, but they are an untapped resource in terms of making Santa Fe hip. Santa Fe, you need us, so give us a place to be!
If you want me to say that Santa Fe sucks, I won't. I often hear many of my peers say this, and I don't agree.
Maybe the city doesn't offer as wide a range of activities as New York or Los Angeles, but that's part of the reason I love it. It's small, which means more opportunity than you would think. If Santa Fe lacks something that you would like or that you saw in some big, fancy city when you were 13, create it. Don't be the asshole who complains all the time; be the fix who's having fun all the time. If it's 10 o'clock on a Friday night and you're under 21, have your friends over and play Apples to Apples or sneak into a hotel hot tub or go for a night hike and hope to spot the headless horseman of Alto Street. Have an early curfew? Go ice skating or watch a matinee. Broke? Watch a movie at home. Like playing role-playing action games where you dress up like a giant marmot, but don't have anyone to do it with? Start your own club. Don't feel like you're cool enough to get anyone to show up? Go to Meow Wolf or Warehouse 21—they're up for anything, and because they're cool, other people will want to do it, too.
I saw this quote on the half-shaved head of a hipster teenager the other day: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Don't be him. Be the quote on his head.
I remember the first time I walked into a poetry reading at Cathedral Park. Most of the people there became some of my closest friends in high school. We always complained about not having anything to do in Santa Fe, but tried to involve ourselves as much as possible in things that interested us. I can argue to both points: There's never anything for under-21 people to do, but then, we were always doing something and getting actively involved in what we thought was fun.
Most of my friends have moved and gone off to college, but back when we were 16 and bored, this is what we did: We had zombie walks and pirate days where we would dress up and talk like pirates; we held poetry readings; we jumped hotel fences to go swimming in the summer; we played fugitive (a downtown-wide game of cops and robbers); we competed in poetry slams; we practiced what we loved doing and supported our peers in what they were passionate about by going to their performances and shows. I am now 19 and can still argue both sides: Santa Fe offers few opportunities for fun, but, as such, affords many opportunities for challenging ourselves to come up with our own fun. Santa Fe is no hub for my hobbies, and I'm sure many teenagers in (and out of) high school feel the same. That's why I'm making it up as I go along.
Under 21? Do This Stuff:
Put on your best swing-dancing duds and learn to dance.
8 pm Mondays (beginner lesson at 7 pm). $3-$8. Odd Fellows Hall, 1125 Cerrillos Road, 983-7493
You’re there for two hours; they teach you how to silk-screen print and, in the process of learning, you get to revamp an old shirt or bag.
5 pm-7 pm Tuesdays. $15 for people under 21. Warehouse 21, 1614 Paseo de Peralta, 989-4423
Acoustic and Poetry Open Mic Night
Know how to play the guitar? Wrote a poem and want to read it aloud—or just want to listen to other people’s work? This is the place to be.
7 pm-9 pm Wednesdays. Free. Warehouse 21, 1614 Paseo de Peralta, 989-4423
Maybe you haven’t done this since you were six, but it’s still just as much fun as ever.
Monday-Sunday, times vary. $3. Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 Rodeo Road, 955-4000, chavezcenter.com. Rockin’ Rollers (all-ages public skating): 6 pm-8 pm Fridays.