Seven years after setting up shop in Little Italy, June Records (662 College) is opening an in-house event space.
Aptly titled June Space, the 500-square-foot speakeasy-style venue at the back of the College Street shop transforms space previously used for office quarters and merchandising and will come equipped with a custom-built reggae sound system from the 80s. Once completed, the space will hold 30-40 concertgoers with a coffee and beverage station that can be used as a bar for licensed Special Occasion Permit events.
The space soft-launches with a private launch party for the new Cosmic Resonance compilation Cosmic Residents Vol. 1 this week, but owner Ian Cheung says it won’t open for public events until (fittingly) June.
“It’s a little stressful. We don’t know if it’s going to make the space feel too dense or too overwhelming,” admits Cheung. “But it’s a risk we’re willing to take.”
Cheung says the initial conversations were prompted about a year ago by the city’s escalating venue crisis. As small venues disappeared, he felt the responsibility to step up.
“One of the final blows was when Faith/Void called it quits,” Cheung says.
He hopes the room will help fill a void left by the departure of alternative spaces like Double Double Land, D-Beatstro and Holy Oak, imagining the space as somewhere emerging artists can play record releases and locals can test out new ideas in a more informal environment, invoking events like ambient/drone night Casual Drones and improvised music series Track Could Bend. “Apart from maybe Tranzac, there aren’t too many [dedicated rooms] that are even like that.”
Cheung hopes to schedule events across daytime, early evening and late-night slots, with the shop shutting down for sets when events run past close. Each member of the staff will have the opportunity to organize a monthly event.
In addition to concerts, Cheung seeks to bring in workshops, educational sessions about topics like modular synthesis, independent film screenings and sexual assault survivor meetings. He’s also open to inviting vendors for “monthly if not weekly” pop-up events.
He promises all staff will complete safer space training through Dandelion Initiative and wants to extend an invitation to the organization to use the space for semi-regular trainings.
“We’re gonna try a lot of things in the beginning,” he says.
Cheung admits it’s as much a practical decision as it is motivated by idealism, citing a marked drop in foot traffic over the last two years while noting “people in this city are becoming rent-poor.”
In the grand scheme of things, he believes inviting the community into the shop will have a mutual benefit.
“For the morale of the city and the community, I think these things add up. The more people you have doing things like this, the more distribution of wealth there is culturally.”
As renovations continue, he welcomes interested parties to contact the shop with booking queries.
@nowtoronto | @Tom_Beedham