RALT’s Love-Filled Night: The Speakeasy’s debut features Rowan bands celebrating Valentine’s Day

"MacKenzie, says he and his roommates lucked out with the location, not just for the living situation but for its functionality and good accommodations that allowed it to become a music venue." - Arts & Entertainment Editor / Al Harmon.

On Feb. 15, the Rowan Alternative Music Club (RALT) once again held a night full of performances on the theme of Valentine’s Day with The Lovers Lagoon at Glassboro’s newest venue The Speakeasy.

The jam-packed evening featured four bands performing their original music and some covers of popular love songs, starting with techno and drum displays from Shark Earrings’ Joey Hess, a high-energy rendition of “Teenage Dream” by Phineas Wrath, heavy and vibrant electric guitar Memory Core, and finally ending with Valendina and their version of “Clarity.”

This event marked the first official event of The Speakeasy, one of several new music venues located near campus. Run by the residents of the home who all asked to remain anonymous, one explains how creating the space was an idea that came to fruition from his desire to have a set place for his South Jersey-based band.

“I’ve been in a band here called [redacted] for a while, so that’s definitely kind of helped set [The Speakeasy] up and be kind of part of it,” said the anonymous source. “That’s been the main inspiration for me at least and the band wanting to have kind of a home venue. Being able to practice at your place and stuff is nice.”

The Speakeasy is housed in the basement of an old Victorian-style home, where visitors can find the corner stage illuminated by bright colored lights and adorned with various license plates, surrounded by posters of music legends like The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Upstairs in the lounge area, a room draped with red wallpaper and intricate crown molding, guests can find a golden skeleton leaning over a piano looking as if it’s about to start stroking the keys and begging to play away. Two spaces featuring very distinct characteristics, The Speakeasy gives off an old-school and eclectic vibe that differentiates itself from the various other aesthetics present at other Glassboro venues, something he says he aims to hone in on and personify more.

“It [Speakeasy] has a kind of an older feel to it and we kind of liked the idea classy is the wrong word, but you know, like classy in almost a humorous way we [Roomates and I] thought was kind of like a funny oxymoron of a college basement being like a fancy speakeasy type bar or something. So it’s kind of like I guess a jazz club-ish type feel. But you know, it still is a basement at the end of the day, but we like to kind of have some fun with it,” said the anonymous source.

As for setting up the venue, another one of the residents and organizers said the process was pretty straightforward. While it only took some minor adjustments of furniture and setting up a basic ticketing system, he says that his and his roommate’s efforts will be worth it in the long run.

“To be fair, it [setup] didn’t take as long as I thought it would, mainly all it was was moving all furniture around to make it look appealing for an audience to show up here,” said Mills. “Figuring out the logistics was not too difficult but it is time-consuming, so it’s hard but it’s worth it.”

The residents and the organizers of the concert venue lucked out with the location, not just for the living situation but for its functionality and good accommodations that allowed it to become a music venue.

“We have a great space down there. It’s low key like one of the biggest spaces in the music scene in terms of like kind of over on how many people can fit right in front of you and high ceilings as well. I’ve played down there with my band before and stuff a lot of times and has a pretty good sound down there,” said the anonymous source.

Looking at the future of The Speakeasy, the residents will continue to expand, including adding a space outside in the backyard showcasing student art and allowing them to sell their stuff at tables in the home itself. 

“We have this huge yard space and we have a ton of ideas to utilize that and do outdoor things. We would love to be able to do a block party for the scene where not just bands but also vendors because there are so many artists that can come and set up numerous tables, not just band merch tables, but for anyone can come and sell art,” said the anonymous source. “That’s something I have always loved to do and we would even love in certain rooms so we have to showcase student art since we can hang a decent amount in different areas of the house.  That will be another way to pull people in but also showcase stuff at the scene that isn’t just music, so there’s a lot of things we have in store but we’re kind of just getting to them and figuring it out as we go.”

Working with RALT to grow their name in the Glassboro music scene and host many more theme nights for years to come, one of the residents and organizers says The Speakeasy hopes to host bands from all over the region.

“I would like to see my friend’s band play here and I think they would bring something new to the table, but, I would love to see pretty much all the bands that circulate through Glassboro come here because they’ll bring a nice vibe and maybe ones in Boston, you never know,” said one of the anonymous sources.

With The Speakeasy now officially open for business, its debut marks the eighth new venue on campus this year. While on paper the venue may look like just another statistic, one of the residents and organizers say the goal is to separate themselves from the others in the area and get to the point where they can become a household name.

“I just want to make a band scene that’s kind of different from the other ones, to be honest. I know a lot of them seem to have a similar direction and kind of how they stylize themselves,” said the anonymous source. “Right now it’s kind of like breaking in but I’m hoping eventually we’ll start to adapt and do something eventually that separates us and makes us different compared to the others.”

Most importantly, another of the residents and organizers of the venue wants to reiterate that The Speakeasy will be a space where everyone is welcome and a place where people from all over Rowan can always visit and enjoy a night full of dancing, meeting new people, and tons of great local music.

“We’re trying to make a place where every time you come you make a new memory and you make one that’s going to last,” said the anonymous source. “We’re looking to make it a good time for everyone and make something that works for people and makes them want to come back.”

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