What DIY spaces can learn from the Oakland warehouse fire

Editor-in-Chief of Vice's Thump, Emilie Friedlander, talks about the aftermath of the Oakland warehouse fire, the underground music scene and what DIY venues can and should do to maintain a safe space.
Workers and emergency responders look at a warehouse in which a fire claimed the lives of at least thirty-six people on Dec. 5, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Getty Images)

Last Friday, a fire broke out in an Oakland, Calif. warehouse space, locally known as the "Ghost Ship." Thirty-six people have been found dead and the space, which was a live-work space for many creative people and was hosting an intimate party featuring bands at the time of the fire, has drawn a lot of attention to the safety of DIY spaces and venues. 

Emilie Friedlander, editor-in-chief of Vice's Thump, spoke to q today about the aftermath of the fire and how it has affected the underground experimental and dance communities. 

"There's a long history of operating out of unconventional spaces," Friedlander explains, referring to the noise and underground scenes in cities around the world. "Techno and house music were born out of safe spaces, often in warehouses, where queer communities and people of colour would gather to seek refuge from a hostile outside world." 

Many have been quick to label the event that took place at the "Ghost Ship" at the time of the fire as an EDM event or a rave but Friedlander clarifies that it was simply "an intimate gathering at someone's home, not a lawless party." 

As a result, Friedlander warns people: "Choose your spaces wisely. Don't put on shows where there are clear fire hazzards. Whether or not you have a commercial venue, this is something you have to think about as a top priority, especially after the events of this past weekend." 


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