How a Former Warehouse Got Transformed Into The Go-To Indoor Venue For This Year's 35 Denton.
To hear Kevin Roden, the city councilman for Denton's Fightin' First District, tell it, the genesis story behind Denton's latest concert venue addition is one of civic victory: “It's one of these great stories about how something like 35 Denton influences economic development and downtown restoration,” the social media-savvy politician says when asked about the latest building to open its doors within his district.
That same yarn is spun a little differently, though, by Rodrigo Diaz, the area DJ who performs under the name of Ynfynyt Scroll and serves as part of the Track Meet crew that will be the first to christen this new space called The Hive tonight. He sees the new venue's arrival as a victory for DIY culture as a whole: “This is probably the best thing that could have possibly happened,” Diaz says of his hopes for the new space's role in 35 Denton this weekend.
To be fair, the story behind The Hive — the mysterious new venue appearing on this year's 35 Denton venue listings, and the place set to host the festival's biggest indoor shows of the weekend — probably incorporates elements from each of these camps.
But, in reality, the bigger truth is that the new spot also fills a big need and void for the 35 Denton folks, too. Its addition, in that regard, is mostly a logistical one. Says 35 Denton creative director Kyle La Valley of the new, 12,000-square-foot venue her festival is helping to open this weekend at 221 S. Bell Ave., just across the train tracks from mainstay Denton venue Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios: “We're excited about The Hive. It's going to be a great space for the festival and future Denton programming.”
Therein, of course, lies the big reveal: In addition to opening as a pop-up space capable of hosting the biggest shows of the impending festival weekend, it's possible — somewhat — that The Hive could end up a permanent fixture in the Denton scene, serving as a larger space that the city overall lacks, and, as such, as a potential way for the college town to steal some shows from the bigger venues down in Dallas in the process.
For now, that much is mostly just pie-in-the-sky chatter. No one is formally set right now to invest in the space for the long-term future. Technically, the building has no tenant at the moment.
Really, The Hive's opening is similar, in many ways, to the stance taken recently by some of the developers and property owners in Dallas' Deep Ellum district — that idea being that it's more worthwhile to show off to creative types a vacant space's potential at cost (through pop-up galleries or, in the case of Denton, concert halls) than it is to leave it sitting empty, not yet leased. Or so at least appears to be the motive for Joe Northern, the Denton-based real estate developer that owns the the warehouse that formerly housed to septic tank service company Hyper-Head.
“Kyle met the owner, Joe Northern, at the Denton Creatives mixer I hosted at Oak Street Draft House last October,” Roden proudly recalls. “He's from Denton and has experience working in Austin and immediately 'got' the vibe and possibilities of 35 Denton and wanted to be a part [of it]. It's [a] spot that all of a sudden became interesting with its proximity to the train and the growth down Hickory Street. 35 needed a bigger venue, and Joe and I had already talked previously about the need for bigger venues in town, in general. It was just a matter of getting the right people together.”
Once that happened, ideas began flowing. So, too, did funds for a build-out, which were split between Northern and the festival, which is these backed monetarily by the brain trust behind another Denton-based company, Little Guys Movers. Permits were acquired from the city. The building was brought up to code. And, lickity split, 35 Denton suddenly had a solution to the venue capacity issues it sometimes faced at previous incarnations of the festival, with its indoor stages becoming too crowded and leaving attendees stuck outside, in the lurch.
Hey, adding a 12,000-square-foot space that can accommodate crowds approaching 1,000 strong to a festival's offerings can alleviate a lot of stresses.
A space like that can also open doors — and significant ones, at that.
Through no fault of 35 Denton's own, the most talked-about happening at last year's affair had little to do with the festival itself. An after-hours party thrown by Diaz and his Track Meet cronies in the old Lion's Den house venue — an event later adoringly deemed in the local press as “The Slime Rave” because of its black lights and trash barrels filled with neon goop — was discussed almost ad nauseam in reviews of the festival. (We weren't immune to this either, a fact I readily acknowledge). This year, however, organizers have nipped that potential attention-grabbing issue in the bud, working with Track Meet for an event instead of against them.
Tonight, as The Hive opens its doors to the public for the first time, it will do so for an affair that Diaz and Track Meet helped plan alongside two internationally acclaimed record labels — Night Slugs and formerly Dallas-based producer Prince William's own Fade to Mind.
“I spoke to Natalie a while back and told her I had some cray ideas, and she said she'd like to work with us,” Diaz says of his event's earliest phases. “Somehow, it worked out. I'm still kinda in shock.”
The plan, Diaz says, is to turn The Hive — for one night, at least — into a proper rave spot to honor the guest performers, who Diaz praises uniformly for being “at the complete forefront of electronic music.”
“Night Slugs is from the U.K., where there is a big history of warehouse party culture,” Diaz says, careful not too reveal too many specific details about the event so as not to ruin any surprises. “Proper rave culture originated with acid and techno parties in London, and although Night Slugs isn't necessarily joined by the hip to that, that's part of their history. It's also part of [Fade to Mind co-founder] Ezra Rubin and Prince Will's, too — just very DIY and very dark spaces. And, obviously, that's 100 percent of what Track Meet is.”
Given that, by all accounts, The Hive is still a somewhat bare bones space, tonight's event is kind of an ideal way for the venue to debut. Of course, it won't be until The Hive's doors open to festival attendees at 9 o'clock tonight that will anyone really know for sure if that's true.
But, to be sure, pretty much everyone is eager to find that out. If not for the long-term necessarily, then definitely for what it could mean for this immediate weekend.
“None of it makes sense,” Diaz says. “So, fuck yes, I'm excited.”
Before tonight's show at The Hive, get a taste for Track Meet's offerings below, through their just-released, free-to-download Track Meet Mixtape.
Cover photo originally via Google Street View.