The Space Says Farewell

An image that Rodgers posted in 2015, when The Space was in financial trouble. Steve Rodgers Photo. 

An image that Rodgers posted in 2015, when The Space was in financial trouble. Steve Rodgers Photo. 

Updated Dec. 21, 11:32 P.M.

With little announcement, an iconic all-ages Hamden venue is saying goodbye, and moving on to a next chapter. Thursday afternoon, The Space owner Steve Rodgers posted to Facebook that this Friday, Dec. 22, would mark The Space’s final show. His full message appeared around 4 p.m. He did not list any details about the venue's sudden closing, or transition plan to move shows to The Outer Space, which will remain open. 

“Finding the words for this post has not been easy, but we need to announce that our years of music, local bands, and open mics at The Space have come to a close,” he wrote. “As a family we are transitioning to a new phase of life, as our children get older and our family focus deepens, we are choosing a new path.“

“We remain deeply grateful to our employees, volunteers, customers and friends who have poured themselves out for The Space over the years. We opened The (original) Space to bring people together, give the local bands a place to grow and to build a community. We hope and pray that was accomplished. Endings are always hard, this is not easy for us, but we know the next step is a hopeful one. The Space will have its last show Friday, December 22nd.”

“Please continue to support The Outer Space as shows are transitioned over-there and most importantly, support local music.”

"With love and thanks, Steve and Jesse Rodgers"

From the post, it appears that music will still be appearing at the location's other venues, The Ballroom at the Outer Space, and on The Outer Space’s small stage. Rodgers did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

The Space opened in 2003, as Hamden's first all-ages music venue. At the time, owner Steve Rodgers said he’d seen a need in the greater New Haven community: Most area music venues were 21 and over. This could provide young artists, some of whom were forming bands, with a place for practicing, performing, and spending time together. It was, Rodgers wrote two years ago, a “creative platform and ‘safe haven’ for so many young people in the area.” 

It’s not the first time that The Space has discussed closing. In 2015, the venue made a plea for financial help, holding two musical fundraisers in August of that year, and a GoFundMe campaign for $25,000. Local bands rallied to save the venue, some reuniting and others playing some of their last sets together. Ultimately, those efforts brought in $26,595 and it remained open. 

“I have been and remain devoted to providing a “safe haven” for people of all ages in our community.,” Rodgers wrote at the time. “My team and I are currently in the process of developing a much more sustainable business model for The Space so that going forward we can continue to bring great music to the Hamden/New Haven as well as continuing to provide a safe haven for the arts for people of all ages.”      

Reached by phone Thursday night, The Foresters member Hayden Nork called the news a huge loss to the community.  

“For as long as I can remember, The Space has served as a widely inclusive venue that my band, and countless other artists have always valued immensely," he said. "Although coming to terms with its closing brings me great sadness, I will never deny the pivotal role The Space has played in my music career.”

There's a personal connection: The Foresters had their first show at The Space—a grade-school appearance where the band played Green Day covers, and then decided to buckle down and get more serious.  Nork recalled watching bands like HospitalityFrankie Cosmos and Alvvays perform there in the years after the band had formed, and was improving.

“It has an undeniable history,” he said. ”A lot of bands had their humble beginnings at The Space, and I’m honored to say we were one of them. I remember that feeling … I was ecstatic. I was like: Oh my God, We’re playing The Space. I’m a star now.”

His dad, Jack Nork, added that the news is “sad, but not surprising.” In the past two years, he has watched the number of formal all-ages venues in the state close, ceding to DIY spaces like the American Legion and Crunch House. There was Heirloom Arts in Danbury, and The Room in Brookfield. The Space, he said, was kind of the last holdout.  

“The era of all-ages clubs … it seems like that era’s coming to an end, and it’s hard to see that,” he said. “There’s a lot of memories, and a lot of great shows. And a lot of love and support for these bands, because they wanted to foster the next generation.”

“I have the utmost support for Steve Rodgers,” he added. “For giving them his records, talking about touring and really being a mentor for them. I really can’t thank him enough.”