Roxy’s owner opens “secret” new music venue, lounge
The Social Room opened just weeks ago and already hopes to help diversify the Columbia music scene.
Columbia’s newest bar and music venue can’t be seen at a quick glance through a window or even at first walk through its own building.
No, to get into The Social Room you need to know this week’s password.
The venue is the brainchild of current Roxy’s owner Jesse Garcia and his wife, Heather Garcia. Heather wanted to open a beauty parlor, and after searching for a place to hold the operation, the couple decided it would be fun to work together, so Jesse started to work on The Social Room.
When people first walk into 220 N. Eighth St., it is not The Social Room that they see, but rather Lips & Curls Salon, the beauty parlor operated by Heather. The salon is decorated to give off a vintage, 1950s feel.
Garcia also says he wanted to give the venue a speakeasy atmosphere, ergo the implementation a password system and hiding the venue behind a beauty parlor.
From the ’50s, the rest of the venue jumps 20 years into the future by paying homage to some of the original punk rockers, the Ramones. The music venue section of the building has been deemed the Rockatorium — a name originating from Garcia’s love of punk rock. The name comes from “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” a cult classic film centered around attending a Ramones concert.
Garcia originally wanted Roxy’s to serve as a live music venue but says that the local music scene wasn’t big enough to support a place with such capacity. Roxy’s now thrives as a bar and dance club, with The Social Room giving Garcia a way to pursue his love of live music.
Garcia says he has been following Columbia’s music scene for some time now.
“Columbia’s in a weird lull with music right now … not to say anything against the musicians that are here,” Garcia says.
According to Garcia, just five years ago there were bands of all sorts of genres — punk, hardcore, indie rock and even noise-core. Garcia misses this diversity and would love for The Social Room to help bring some of that back.
“Now we have folk music and blues music for five years running and everyone wants to have a curly mustache and a banjo,” Garcia says. “And that’s cool … I miss having rock shows. I would love to see some more diversity coming through the music world and help encourage people to find some different kinds of music to play.”
The Rollups, one of the first bands to play The Social Room, agrees with Garcia’s well-meant concern for Columbia’s current music scene. Four MU students make up the rock outfit that performed May 1.
Some of the words the band used to describe Columbia’s scene include “small,” “growing” and “in a slump, but on the rise.”
However, bassist Emmitt Wright thinks that The Social Room will become a new spot for local bands because “it’s got a cooler gimmick” than some of the other venues in town and that the password system intrigues people.
“It's also a good schtick to get people to follow them on Twitter and stuff … then people get more notifications about shows and it increases the likelihood that they'll go,” guitarist Marshall Maxwell says.
Drummer Jon Belsheim says that they had fun playing their show, despite the sound of the venue still being in the works and a bit of an odd stage setup. He also says that people will go to shows there because it’s cool and fun, not just because they have friends performing.
"It was fun chilling there afterwards too,” Maxwell says. “There were good vibes.”
The venue has also hosted several themed event nights including “Hats and Horses” for a Kentucky Derby theme and a Motown night. Garcia says the special event nights will continue to happen because they’re going to use any excuse to have some fun.
“We’re just trying to get different fun and entertainment that's not going on in Columbia right now,” Garcia says.