Dormant since 2012, The Shop, the popular music venue for teens run by teens, roars back to life in its new location at Hanna Boys Center on March 12 with a drug-and-alcohol-free night of music and dancing.
The 7 p.m. Reggae/Reggaeton show, featuring local artist, DJ Cali, is specifically for ages 14 to 18.
Originally founded in 1999 in a dusty warehouse on the outskirts of Sonoma as a senior class project for budding garage bands, The Shop grew into a popular teen music venue. It was run by teens for teens, hosting live bands, open mics, music competitions, and interactive cult movie screenings. Every weekend the teens worked the door, ran the sound-board, managed the stage, sold concessions, and booked bands.
“The Shop is an important part of the history of Teen Services Sonoma,” said TSS Executive Director, Cristin Felso. “Although it closed nearly four years ago, nothing has replaced it. People continue to talk about what it provided for youth here in the Valley.”
The Shop gave local kids a much-needed outlet of their own in a city that catered mostly to adults and tourists, Felso said. It offered youth a safe outlet where they could express themselves and feel a sense of ownership.
After a 13-year run, it closed its doors in 2012 following the deaths of two beloved and key figures: Operation Youth founder John Randall, who oversaw and mentored the all-teen board, and entrepreneur Niels Chew who donated The Shop location.
The 2016 version is a collaboration between TSS and Hanna Boys Center. At a recent meeting with Hanna Boys Center, Feslo said, “we were discussing ways to partner to give teens positive outlets with meaningful engagement, and we hit on the obvious answer: resurrect The Shop.”
Though now hosted in Hanna’s brand-new, state-of-the-art auditorium, the re-boot is true to its roots and mission. The Shop is being run by a newly-minted board of directors comprised of 11 teens (both boys and girls), ranging in age from 15 to 17. They attend meetings, discuss issues, make decisions, and are steering the new venture on their own terms.
The excitement surrounding opening night is palpable, Felos said. Plans are well underway for the reggae-inspired evening, and board members are eagerly discussing food options, dress-codes and safety precautions. The Shop’s own Code of Conduct states clearly that each teen is responsible for his/her own actions and that drugs, alcohol, and aggressive behavior will not be tolerated.
While The Shop is teen-run, there is a loyal and extremely active group of adult volunteers, Shop alumni, chaperones, and Hanna staff, who meet with The Shop Board and plan to attend every event, ready to offer assistance if necessary.
“Security and safety for the teens is paramount,” said Hanna Boys Center Executive Director, Brian Farragher. “We want everyone to have a great time in a highly-supportive and positive environment. Hanna’s own campus security will be on hand all evening, but keeping a very low profile.”
Cristin Felso added, “We’ll also be offering Teen Safe Ride on the event night. Kids can get vouchers from us at the event for a free, safe, taxi ride home.”
The March 12 date is initially a one-time event – a test to see if the program is still viable given its new location and the millennial generation. Will the teens be able to step up, take charge, and bring The Shop back to life? If the enthusiasm and spirit of the teen board are any indication, Felso believes, The Shop is set to roar.
The Saturday, March 12 event is 7 to 10 p.m. $10 at the door. Campus driveway at 17000 Arnold Drive, at Aqua Caliente.