Kickstand, the basement comedy space at Velo Cult bike shop and bar, was shut down by the city over the weekend, says owner Sky Boyer. Boyer says he expects the closure to be temporary, and that the issue arose after a visit by the Fire Marshal. (Portland Fire and Rescue has not yet been able to offer confirmation.)
Events at the venue are already moving, following an announcement Sunday, March 22, by Kickstand. Kickstand may also seek out a temporary space for events.
"Everyone is devastated because comedy there right now is really great," says Brodie Kelly, producer of Kickstand comedy night Garbage People. He's moved their special show, Ginger People, to Habesha Lounge on Northeast Broadway.
Fire code was already a concern for the tiny venue. In the past, says Kelly, individual performers were not allowed to perform because owners worried they were using too much equipment for the small space.
The problem, says Boyer, is zoning.
"It used to be a two-story antique mall, so we didn't see any problem with having people in the basement," says Boyer. "But the city wants us to change zoning to allow assembly. Apparently people sitting down watching comedy is different from people walking around shopping."
Boyer doesn't know whether getting city approval will involve structural changes to the building—in which case they are considering an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign. Velo Cult's upstairs building capacity has also been reduced.
Other event promoters were also saddened by the closure.
"Last night we had about 100+ people in a backyard," write the Portland Poetry Slam organizers, who have bounced from Backspace to Slabtown to Kickstand to a private home as each venue closed. "But that's not very viable for a weekly event, you know?... It is very disappointing, because we loved being at and partnering with VeloCult - they are wonderful, hardworking, incredibly kind people - and also because there's a very serious lack of affordable all-ages venues for communities like ours."
Here's the text of Kickstand's original Facebook post:
IMPORTANT BUMMER NEWS: Hi Everyone,Some sad news came in this weekend. Details are still scarce for now, but as of this Monday we will have to temporarily suspend our programming at Kickstand.We'll know more in the coming week, but currently all live performance and group assembly is postponed both upstairs and downstairs at Velo Cult.We are deciding the best course of action which may be anything from opening a temp. space until things get figured out, to starting an indiegogo or kickstarter.Anyone interested in helping out with a temp space, or any ideas or people in your networks who might be able to help us get back up and running as soon as possible would be greatly appreciated.Thanks for everyone who has been making Kickstand such a rad and special space and we hope with your continued support to get back to it.For now the best way you can help out is to invite your friends to "like our fbook page", stay informed, and rally behind us when we figure out our next move!!Best,The Kickstand Crew