Starline Social Club is launching a series of parties to assist Oaklanders who need help paying their rent. Residents can nominate themselves and others for consideration, and the Uptown venue will then host a benefit party.
"This whole rent situation is out of control, so we're starting a monthly rent party for locals in need," Starline announced via Facebook. "You bring us the people and we'll handle the talent/promotion/all that."
The 400-person space has had a history of local activism since it first opened in 2015. While the club strives to support local performers and artists, it's also offered the venue as a fundraising space for organizations like Planned Parenthood.
“It’s great to support DJs, musicians, and employees,” said Starline founder, director, and co-owner Adam Hatch. “But what we’re going to try to do is reach out from the creative space that we’ve been supporting and to support more of the people who are around us.”
Hatch got the idea from Harlem rent parties of the 1940s and 50s, where hosts charged a fee for guests to enjoy an evening of socializing and entertainment. When he recently had to look for a new home himself for the first time in a decade, the idea really hit home, he said.
“I own a business, and it’s relatively successful. I have good credit. I have good references,” he said. “And I thought, Jesus Christ, if I can’t find a place to live, then what’s it like for other people?”
The experience stirred Hatch to action. For each party, one hundred percent of door fees and twenty percent of the bar will go towards paying the rent of selected beneficiaries.
Starline has yet to set an exact date for its first rent party, though it is already considering submissions and hopes to stage a benefit by the end of August. Hatch said the nomination process is less of an application and more of an explanation.
“We’re looking for people to nominate themselves, nominate their friends, their neighbors,” said Hatch. “If you need some help paying rent, just send us an email.”
Currently, Starline Social Club has blocked out one day each month for the event, but Hatch hopes to offer as many as he can, depending on interest and availability.
Eventually, he said he'd like to emulate the Healthy SF model, where businesses add a surcharge to subsidize the cost of healthcare for their employees.
“We’re trying to change the model of the bar and event space. We’re trying to use it more as a tool for community activism," said Hatch. "So if people have things they need, or want, or causes they want to propel forward, we have a big space and we want to support the local and beyond community."
Oakland residents who would like to get involved or nominate themselves or someone else as a beneficiary are encouraged to email Starline Social Club at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading ‘Rent Party.’
Interested parties can also comment and share on the venue's rent party event page on Facebook.
Starline Social Club is located at at 2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, and is open 7 days a week from 3pm to 2am.
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