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The Spaces of Athens DIY: The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Jennifer Castaneda, Contributor

The Hardcore House of Ruther Bader Ginsburg opened its doors to music lovers on June 23, 2015. Burst of Rage, Free At Last, Sarduakar, and Killjoy played on as teenagers moshed on hard-wood floors with the lights on.

DIY shows are shows that are usually held in areas outside of a typical, designated venue. They are a non-standard way of giving artists and musicians a platform to showcase and share their talent. These musicians are oftentimes punk, hardcore, and indie pop.

Blair Morton, one of the founders of The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, described the scene as "Hiding from the mainstream and waiting to be found by those who belonged. Promotion of DIY shows were done strictly by word-of-mouth basis, creating a culture of secrecy, exclusiveness and localness.”

If you look at it at it from a local level, there is a DIY community almost everywhere around the United States. There are private DIY pages on Facebook where like-minded people can join. There are also websites that aim to help people who are looking to book acts, as well as find and connect with artists interested in playing. It’s an entire network of people.

When Megan Fair and her roommate, Blair, decided they wanted to have their own DIY space, they knew they wanted to make it a safe space for everyone who attended their shows.

From lo-fi to indie pop to punk, The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has welcomed all kinds of artists that have made their way through Athens, Ohio. The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg brings music lovers together for the night, while many other venues are more social events, where people go to hang out and drink with their friends. Blair shared that she believed those who attend The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg are there for the music.

“More than anything, we wanted to establish it was going to be a fun place but it was also going to be, by nature, feminist.” Megan said.

“We also did something different. We have a dry space.” said Blair when sharing that it’s a common question amongst newcomers to the space.

Megan said that they wanted everyone who attended to feel safe and accountable for their actions.

The inaugural show was run by Blair, who taught herself everything she needed to know about the DIY scene online.

“I read a lot about DIY when I was in high school about the classic Washington D.C. scenes with Ian Mackaye and Minor Threat. I really didn’t think the DIY scene existed,” she shared as she described her hometown. “There was basically no music scene there.”

The "Frame and Mantle Show" was a memorable in part because it was a mixture of talent. Gabbi Thacker opened up the night with personal stories and stand-up, followed by Space Buns Forever (Megan’s solo project). Normal State followed and Frame and Mantle closed out the night. The show was very intimate.

As fast as DIY spaces start, they end just as quickly. In a college town, DIY spaces come and go. People move in and out of Athens and all that is left are the small legacies they leave behind. The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is celebrating its last few months as a DIY space before Megan and Blair move out and while the name may not carry on the memories will.

Read on for a short Q&A with the facilitators of The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

How did you get involved with the DIY scene here in Athens?

Megan: “I myself was really actively involved with DIY in my home community in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and a little bit in Pittsburg, so DIY was very much second nature to me. When I got to Athens, I was immediately introduced to places like Castle Genesee. I really enjoyed it and was having fun, but I saw there was room to grow and things to improve upon. Not that things were bad.”

Why did you name your space “The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg?”

Megan: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the social justice judge on the Supreme Court and has stood up for women, people of color, and poor people in her judicial decisions. We felt like paying homage to (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) was a way to establish, without saying, that we were a space with intersectional feminist principles and that it was a space where non-men were welcome. This was really important because while we really loved the spaces in Athens, there definitely was a “boys club” feeling and if you were new to DIY and you didn’t have the background I was lucky enough to have, it could definitely feel a little bit intimidating.”

Blair: “Sometimes I think people think we take ourselves way too seriously because we have merchandise; We have patches and specialized pins. Megan came up with “The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” mostly so we could it The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s quick and it rolls off the tongue. I didn’t know what to call it. I was just drawing blanks when it came to coming up with house names. It is kind of a joke because ‘yeah that’s our girl, Ruth’ but also Ruth Bader is really inspiring, super smart, and paved the way for women in law and women’s rights in general.”

What’s one of your most memorable shows?

Megan: “One of the shows that I was proudest of was the LVL Up show because it is incredibly hard to book a band that has a booking agent that is willing to trust you enough with a DIY venue. We were able to pay them well, give them a good show and that was so important to me because we really deeply respect and admire the fact that they could play in our space and it be a really positive experience.”

What is the RBG’s Legacy?

Blair: “There were a few staples at our shows, and while they are not going to carry on the house, I know that it meant something to the show goers. They’re underclassmen, they’re younger than me, and I think that was what I experienced in the DIY scene with Wolf Haus, The Pink Mistress, and The Lodge. Like, freshmen that would come to my shows share the same kind of experiences that I was having. In the same way that The Lodge means so much to me, may be the same way The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg means to someone who’s a freshman. It may be that the first show they ever went to was in my space.”

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