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Damn Girl teams up with Skate Zone 71 for Roll Bounce

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It’s the hippest trip in Columbus. With the Midwest being the rightful birthplace of funk, the four-part collective of 70s dance party Damn Girl is taking their celebration to the roller rink. With regular attendees dressed in floral and lamé threads, the monthly function is always themed, with more emphasis on fun than dramatic attire. After finding their groove at the now-defunct Circus bar in the Short North, Damn Girl became nomadic, continuing the festivities at multiple venues before finding their niche at Skully’s.

Raised in Minneapolis before assisting with indie rock events in Columbus, Damn Girl DJ Charles Erickson reflects on the event’s beginnings, recalling that it once had 1,000 attendees through the door at the rustic digs of Strongwater. “At the time, [Strongwater] didn’t even have half the infrastructure they do now. I mean, we used to have to get on a scissor lift every month to hang our own disco ball lights and video projector,” he says. “They weren’t able to manage that, plus they’re trying to turn it around and have a wedding there the next morning. It was just a nightmare for everybody.”

Photos: Brian Kaiser. Models: Sela Williams & Adam Elkins

Hauling their strobe lights to Bluestone, the group realized they weren’t able to sustain drink sales for signature booze, as guests would regularly pregame before Damn Girl. Adding insult to injury, Bluestone couldn’t afford to pass on lucrative private bookings, as the building’s magnitude was surpassed by the quantity of the event’s guests, despite the event being fit for intimacy. While Erickson says that Bluestone is open to realigning with the group, these patchy circumstances left Damn Girl with one last resort.

“We ended up deciding on Skully’s, with it being a little bit smaller but most importantly just a lot more sustainable. There’s a vastly better integrated lighting and video system, so we just show up on stage and plug in,” Erickson says of their final venue. “That’s one of the big challenges of that kind of event, was finding the sweet spot.”

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As the Short North changes, Damn Girl doesn’t have any plans to retreat just yet. With sounds ranging from Michael Jackson to Donna Summer, on every third Friday of the month, the event is the one-stop shop for nostalgic fanfare. Following their six-year anniversary in July, the collective’s first “Roll Bounce” is sure to bring high roller vibes.

“Ohio has always been a mecca for funk music. Our audience is the best, people come to dance and the percentage of the people who are on the dance floor is always high,” Erickson says. “The music that we play is chosen to be fun and uplifting and we’ve worked hard to build an inclusive culture around our night.”

While cinephiles may take rollerskating cues from Boogie Nights and Unholy Rollers, for Damn Girl DJ video and lighting coordinator Donnie Mossman, 2005 film Lords of Dogtown provided a hindsight on polyurethane wheels which changed skating and skateboarding drastically in the 70s. “Before [polyurethane], the ride was bumpy and not as fun. When the ride got smoother, combined with the disco and funk music of the time, a kind of magic happened,” Mossman says.

“There’s something so free about the feeling of your body coasting on wheels—that’s part of the reason we’ve been so excited to throw this party.” With Roll Bounce being held at Skate Zone 71, the Damn Girl crew is certain that fans from far and wide will attend, continuing the six-year anniversary bash and ringing in a new tradition on wheels. With residential spots like Oddfellows, Local Bar, and Flower Child that subtly pay homage to the 70s, Damn Girl has no gripes with continuing their vintage influence.

Columbus nightlife is growing exponentially, but Damn Girl welcomes the pressure. Though they’re just six years in, Damn Girl’s throwback to Ohio’s retro origins shows that they’re here for the long haul. “As Columbus has gotten bigger, people have a lot of choices. So we’re honored when people choose us,” Mossman says. “We love seeing our regulars every month and also meeting new people who’ve never been to Damn Girl. It feels really special to welcome new people who had a good time dancing with us.”

Roll Bounce will be held at Skate Zone 71, 4900 Evanswood Dr. on Sept. 6 and 7. Find tickets at eventbrite.com.

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New comedy club bringing laughs downtown this summer

614now Staff

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Started as a small improv group around the fall of 2012, Hashtag Comedy Co. has since grown into a full-fledged improv comedy company offering shows, classes, and training to comedy fans in Central Ohio. 

Now, Hashtag has announced a new downtown headquarters to help keep the laughs coming. Opening Summer 2020 at 346 E Long St. at the corner of Long and Grant in downtown Columbus, the venue will focus on improv comedy but also provide audiences with standup, sketch, and variety shows.

“Opening a space for people to be creative and showcase their comedy has been a dream of ours for nearly our entire time together,” Sarah J Storer, founding member, co-owner and Artistic Director at The Hashtag Comedy Company says on their website. “When this opportunity came to us to open a venue in the heart of the city we love, we knew it was the right time and place to make it happen.”

The venue will hold 45-55 patrons on most nights, but can open to accommodate up to 90 for specialty shows and engagements. Stocked with a bar in the theater space and right next door to gourmet to-go kitchen Cluster Truck, patrons will be able to enjoy a great meal and a drink while taking in a show. Classes and corporate workshops will occupy the space during weekends and non-show nights as well as working hours during the day. 

To learn more about how you can get involved with The Hashtag Comedy Company, visit hashtagcomedy.com

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Food & Drink

Tastebud Traveling: Free tasting event coming to North Market

614now Staff

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Take a family tastebud trip with the return of Kalamata’s Kitchen Tasting Tour at the North Market this weekend.

Kalamata’s Kitchen will kick off a 12-month, 12-city tasting tour in Columbus on Saturday, February 22. This premier event for kids and families will feature tasty bites from North Market vendors representing food from around the world.

According to a release, every child participant is treated like a VIP as they discover new foods and learn about unique perspectives from celebrated chefs. Kids receive a VIP badge and a Food Adventure Passport that is stamped each time they try a new food. They will also have the opportunity to meet Sarah Thomas, co-founder and author of the Kalamata’s Kitchen book series.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit kalamataskitchen.com and/or northmarket.com.

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Ohio Plans Statewide St. Patrick’s Day Party at the Polls

Linda Lee Baird

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You may be so busy making St. Patrick’s Day plans that you’ve forgotten another important event happening on Tuesday, March 17. That’s right: it’s the Ohio primary!

You have until Tuesday, February 18 to register to vote or update your registration in time to vote in the primary. The state has made it very easy for you to register right now, from wherever you’re sitting, without having to go anywhere on this snowy day. Just grab your ID, and click here

Then make a plan to vote on March 17, and reward yourself with a green beer afterwards. Sláinte! 

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