Dance Elsewhere: The Power of a Boycott

While+Elsewhere+may+be+a+popular+concert+venue+for+students%2C+there%27s+some+unsavory+things+going+on+behind+the+scenes.

VICKY CARMENATE/THE OBSERVER

While Elsewhere may be a popular concert venue for students, there's some unsavory things going on behind the scenes.

By VICKY CARMENATE, Contributing Writer

A Bushwick concert venue popular among Fordham students, Elsewhere, embodies “respect for all people and art, and a desire to support and grow the communities that makes it all possible.” Unfortunately, the venue has not held true to its own standards.

As of April 26, 2019, a coalition of concerned allies (CCA) encouraged patrons of the nightclub to boycott the venue. They also got in touch with Elsewhere and encouraged it, and other venues, to develop a respectful protocol for engaging with people who have been harmed by abusers in their spaces. Elsewhere initially did not respond to their messages.

According to the CCA, since 2017, Elsewhere has known that one of its investors is allegedly a serial rapist. The club was presented with several messages by the CCA which explained his actions and his use of date-rape drugs. Again, Elsewhere issued no response. 

After hearing about the CCA’s call to action, Elsewhere immeditely tweeted a statement that read, “Elsewhere is intended to be a safe space and we take issues of sexual violence, harassment and misconduct extremely seriously.” 

The statement continues, “Since learning of the allegations, we had been working to reclaim their [the investor’s] financial interest in the venue in order to break with them.” According to Elsewhere, the person is no longer an investor, and they have never profited from the space. Many community members replied to the tweets with questions acknowledging the vagueness of the claim. 

Pressure was put onto Elsewhere by community members, allies, survivors and musicians to meet with the CCA to discuss the issues with accountability and transparency.   

On Aug. 29, 2019, the CCA were able to set up a meeting facilitated by the New York Peace Institute (NYPI) to create a space where the allies and members of the Elsewhere staff could talk about accountability toward the investor. Elsewhere did not attend the meeting.

The CCA’s goal was to hold the venue accountable and to bring transparency to the issue so that survivors and allies could truly have a safe space to enjoy their favorite artists. Until Elsewhere held its investor accountable and made a statement providing the changes that were made, the CCA encouraged not only allies and survivors but also all attendees of the venue to boycott. 

Mason Slover, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’23, visited Elsewhere to see the pop-jazz group Summer Salt last summer. He said the venue was beautiful  it was on a rooftop and the sun set right as Summer Salt had started their set. 

“It was way out in Brooklyn, but it was an adventure, right?” Slover said. “I loved it. I was planning on going back, but not anymore.” 

His opinion drastically changed after learning about the venue, “I just don’t want to support that, monetarily or in any way… there’s no reason for me to go back anymore.” 

Brooklyn resident Tina McCain, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’20, has complicated feelings toward Elsewhere. “I do believe the validity and the people power of a boycott, but it is also really tricky with spaces like this where there are so many different people of different marginalizations involved.”

McCain mentioned how the boycott also hurts the queer community. The boycott also takes away business from a venue that many queer community members work at. “Everyone I know that contracts there for various sources of technical work, like lighting design, sound design, all that sort of stuff, are queer.” 

According to McCain, “Accountability is never simple, it’s always really complicated.”

Similar to concertgoers boycotting Elsewhere, the CCA also put together a Spotify playlist of artists who pulled their shows from the venue after hearing about the controversy. 28 musicians pulled their shows from Elsewhere, including Ghost Funk Orchestra, NATIVE SUN and Pom Pom Squad

According to the CCA’s Instagram story, as of Oct.10, they were able to meet with Elsewhere to discuss the protocol toward respectful communication with survivors and community members to make the venue a safe space going forward. 

To follow the accountability wishes from the CCA, Elsewhere said it will share updates and new protocol in a public statement. Its hope is that other venues will also use this as a resource to make sure their venues are also safe for all people. 

“We’ve established some mutual trust and understanding with the CCA,” Elsewhere told The Observer. “We are now working together with them on a joint statement between Elsewhere and CCA to update the community about this topic.” 

CCA has yet to comment on the situation.