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: