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Downtime. Upcycled.

I’m a relatively tough broad who picks up bugs and snakes with my hands, shoots guns, and curses like a sailor. (I’d put “Sorry, Mom” here, but guess where I learned it…) But I’m also a smart cookie. So when I was tasked with meeting two strange men for an interview at an abandoned warehouse [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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I’m a relatively tough broad who picks up bugs and snakes with my hands, shoots guns, and curses like a sailor. (I’d put “Sorry, Mom” here, but guess where I learned it…) But I’m also a smart cookie. So when I was tasked with meeting two strange men for an interview at an abandoned warehouse on the south side, I decided to bring backup. My bodyguard for the evening/the love of my life is a blue-collar strong man, built in a way that I wouldn’t hedge my bet were he set to arm wrestle a black bear. So I felt snug as a bug parking in an empty gravel lot in a seemingly desolate south side industrial complex. We approached the building in time for my evening interview and were greeted with literal open arms by two mustachioed men in vintage ball caps, one wearing a smoking jacket. They welcome’d and come-on-in’d us and proceeded into the ancient building. As we entered into a dark maze of doorways, I glanced back at my fiance/strong man. In his Virginia accent, shoulders sprinkled with sawdust from work, he beamed. “This place is awesome!”

Matthew Barnes and Jared Gibbons are Ohio kids all grown up. Raised in cousins’ basements with grandpa’s bar signs and Transformers cartoons, their aesthetic/background lies somewhere between the bourgeois creative scene of the capital city, and a wood-paneled sunken living room from 1990. Somehow, they’ve found a way to bring that pedigree into the present, with a curated collection of estate sale finds, and a keen eye for pop culture and design.

Now, they want you to join them in their space for a beer and conversation.

But this isn’t just any bar.

This is Leisure Club, a private club concept more Moose than Grey Goose.

zleisure Club

Photo by Brian Kaiser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how it works: Members pay $25 a month, and for this, they get an array of perks. You can come by Leisure Club’s meticulously decorated space and chill on a leather couch while their top-shelf VHS collection plays on an old school TV/VCR combo. You can bring your own beer or other beverages, or choose from the well-stocked ’50s vintage ice box that stands in the corner, unlikely to be moved again, as it weighs around 600 pounds.

A full sized basketball hoop is hung above a doorway. Huge windows run from knee-height to the ceiling, and the walls are covered with swag from decades past. Each of the three main rooms has its own curated vibe. The first is “The Classroom.” Tiny chairs circle around a desk, and an old goose necked projector perches on the windowsill. This is the room where Leisure Club will hold private musical performances, and possible gatherings like yoga classes and the like. The center room is hued in sepia, black and brown. They call this one “Eagle’s Landing.” It sports a portrait of Elvis clad in full cowboy gear, and is an ode to early Americana. The innermost room is called “Half Dome,” due to the double presence of painted landscapes feature the geologic occurrence. This room is clad in a more recent decade of throwbacks. An honest-to-goodness Farrah Fawcett latch hook rug is hung from the wall (who would ever put her beautiful face on the floor is beyond me.) Antique shelves sport everything from toy dinosaurs to old baseballs and other tchotchkes. Everything is old, everything is sturdy, and everything reminds you of a flashbulb memory from your childhood if you grew up in the midwest in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

But the privileges of membership don’t end there.

The entire idea behind Leisure Club is one of curation. In a world where going out with friends is always a compromise, Gibbons and Barnes want their members to know they are coming to a place where they can experience a worry-free chill sesh. The clientele will be friends of friends, and the crowd size will be controlled, as the owners will cap membership to avoid crowding. Members and their guests can rest easy knowing they are in a familiar space, the door has an attendant, and that bad behavior won’t be tolerated. This means you can count on the coolness of the crowd, unlike a public bar where anything can happen. The guests of the evening can play their own music, bring their own food, and have a space where they can develop relationship with the other patrons, knowing they may cross paths again. How many bars let you pick the playlist and the VHS of the evening? None. That’s how many.

Leisure Club Columbus

The Classroom at the Leisure Club. Photo by Brian Kaiser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only modern outcropping in the space will be a 70-inch TV where the LC crew hope to play games that clients can gather around. With a private space at their disposal, the sky’s the limit on the types of gatherings that can be held in there. They envision concerts with beers, birthdays with cakes, and football parties with a full spread of game day food. Bring your own decorations and cocktail ingredients, if you want. In a private club, guests make the rules and set the stage for whatever they can dream up. Just outside the windows, there is plenty of space for food trucks and vendors, where they hope to host low-pressure retail-chill events, so local makers can get in on the relaxed atmosphere. Hell, there’s already a closet full of vintage tees from Clothing Underground for sale that I perused greedily. Don’t touch that Star Trek one, though. I got dibs on it.

And what a stage it is, located inside an old industrial building being repurposed for commercial use, Leisure Club shares space with a few cool neighbors, and a lot of possibility. A huge brick building with a compound and complex running along railroad tracks, this space is destined to become to the south side what 400 West Rich became for East Franklinton. A hub of creative growth, and the site of gathering and celebrations. Leisure Club is intended to be a communal space, with no dress code, and a maximalist look designed to spark nostalgia and comfort. This is the opposite of white subway tiled bedecked, steel piped, twee houseplant dotted cafe and bar decor of the last several years. Those look sterile compared to this, which is fitting, as Barnes and Gibbons are bringing life to a place where manufacturing is dying. They are reappropriating the spirit of the place by re-creating the collective past within it. Bringing a leisure-focused pastime place into what was a labor focused atmosphere.

Leisure Club has gotten into this building at the ground floor, so to speak. Time will tell what the rest of the area will host. For now, Barnes and Gibbons can provide one thing for sure: A customizable gathering space with no shortage of personality, looking out onto the city skyline. A spot where everybody knows your name.

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Arts & Culture

SoHud Collective provides fresh, stylish open-air experience

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The fear of ever going back inside of a building that’s not your home has become a general widespread worry. Open-air markets and garage sales are going to be a hot commodity this summer, and one new company has already taken a proactive and stylish approach to fill that need for consumers.

SoHud Collective is one of the first Columbus-based companies to corner this emerging market. The boutique pop-up shop, founded on the principle of friendships formed around fashion, art, and plants, hosted their first event on Saturday, May 23. 

And oh yeah, free lemonade.

An assortment of deep vintage finds at an incredibly reasonable price will leave you walking away with at least one purchase. The first installment took place on the corner of Hudson and Summit, across the street from Evolved Body Art.

The idea of a pop-up shop at this corner may be a new idea, but the format has been around for ages. Why SoHud Collective is important right now boils down to the consumers’ desire for an out-of-house experience and the employees’ obvious shared compassion for each other and thrifting.

“Fashion has been the glue to our friendship,” said the SoHud Collective, made up of Taylor, Connor, and Hayden. “We thrift together, we borrow each other’s clothing, and we send each other pictures of our outfits before we leave the house.”

A company formed on friendships in the SoHud region, the group behind this passion project has a specific goal in mind when passing down their used goods: keep the SoHud community stylin’. 

“Some of us have lost our jobs due to Covid-19, and this was a great way to keep our spirits up and redirect our attention to something that truly fulfills us,” the SoHud Collective said.

The items featured in the monthly pop-ups are passed down from an assortment of thrifting havens. Closets. Basements. Other thrift stores. Grandmas.

From shoes to shirts, Atari systems to board games, SoHud Collective is elevating the thrifting experience in the time of coronavirus.

“Currently, our focus is on elevating our display and merchandising technique to really give the people an experience and a fierce outfit and home decor to create that perfect photo for Instagram, the SoHud Collective said.”

SoHud Collective would like to thank Evolved for letting it use its parking lot for May’s edition of the pop-up. With a goal to have an installment of SoHud Collective once a month, the pop-up shop will return to the same location on June 27 (11 a.m. until 7 p.m.) and 28 (11 a.m. until 4 p.m.). 

A charity table where all proceeds will go to clothing the homeless LGBTQ youth in Columbus will be present as well. 

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Community

Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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Arts & Culture

Loop Daddy invades Columbus with first-ever drive-in tour

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The return of live music is going to be one of the trickiest industries to transition back into business as usual, if that will ever be the case. We’ve seen people getting creative, building concert stages within their own homes via live streaming. Some have participated in virtual festivals, probably the sector of live music to take the biggest hit.

But when an industry made up of innovative creatives always trying to come up with the next big idea is faced with incredible hardships, they respond with quick-witted imaginative solutions.

One of the first trends that popped up in the revolution of bringing back live music was the implementation of drive-in lots. Luckily for Columbus, the darling of the internet DJ scene Marc Rebillet aka Loop Daddy will be taking his first-ever drive-in tour through the Buckeye state in mid-June.

Captivating audiences with his participatory DJ scratching and immature antics, extremely goofy sex appeal, and sleazy porno stache, Rebillet was an act poised for a breakout summer before the pandemic shut music concert venues down. If you have access to a car, though, you’ll still have a chance to catch the wild virtual sensation.

On June 14, Rebillet will be pulling up to the South Drive-In for the third stop of his Drive-In Concert Tour. Rebillet will also be showcasing short films as part of his drive-in experience.

As far as sound is going for these events, a lot of drive-ins are opting to go the radio transmission route to encourage people to stay inside of their vehicles.

A very few grouping of tickets remain, which include three-person and four-person car passes. Tickets are running $40 per head (plus additional fees), which seems to be the average across the new wave of drive-in concerts. Two-people/one-car tickets have already sold out.

If you don’t want to miss out on this unique opportunity, act right now. Tickets can be purchased at:

https://nightout.com/events/marc-rebillet-drive-in-tour-columbus-ohio-south-drive-in-presented-by-hotbox/tickets.

Social distancing guidelines are outlined at the point of purchase.

The South Drive-In is located at 3050 S. High St. Doors open at 8 p.m. with the show beginning at 9 p.m. Attendees need to arrive before 8:45 p.m. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

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