Unit B Struggles to Come Back After Shutdown

Unit B organizer Mark Waters
Unit B organizer Mark Waters

After its sudden shut down and cancellation of all its pre-booked events, Unit B, Orange County's biggest DIY space, has left a hole in the punk community. With a new Indiegogo campaign and repeated promises from the organizer Mark Waters, the possibility of a new space is still questionable. Waters says the new venue should be up by Christmas or January at the latest, though he doesn't have a location picked out yet.

Piece by piece, he's selling each skateboard ramp that branded Unit B just a week after the announced closing, a haunting reminder that the chance of a new venue opening anytime soon was highly unlikely. However, Waters promised a new space even in the first closing announcement. "Everyone at city hall is pretty familiar with this project at this point," Waters said. Unlike the original Unit B, he wants to make this space completely legitimate, so that nothing can happen for it to be shut down.

After about two months of online fundraising with Indiegogo to generate Unit B's goal of $22,000, Waters' campaign is falling way short of that, having only reached $1,500 with 45 days left to collect. "It's a far off go, but we haven't really done anything yet. I'm still definitely optimistic, that's just the goal of the community," Waters says. Because of the large expense and real problems associated with starting a venue like this, Waters is also looking for investor's outside of the community.

Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo allows Mark to receive the money whether he reaches the full goal or not. "To be honest once we reach the skateboard media, some of the prints will garnish some contributions," Waters says. With sponsors of the campaign featuring Emerica, Flip, Ed Templeton and a handful of photographers auctioning off prints for bidders, the expectations to reach the goal were high. Using his industry connections, Waters, who runs Skatepunk.com, had no trouble getting people to help him out. "Skateboarders are the first do-it-yourselfers," he says.

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Lee Lizotte from San Juan Capistrano donated to the campaign. "I feel like it was the only venue in Orange County to have all-ages shows and let bands play no matter what their genre is and everyone that went to the shows always seemed respectful to the people there," he said.   Tanner Haberl, another donor and fan of the venue from Huntington Beach says, "I want Unit B to come back because there are close to zero all-ages venues in the area right now. Unit B was the best thing to happen in Orange County in a long time."

Waters wants the new venue to stay true to the idiosyncrasies of the old space. "Unit B started as a skateboarding studio, but turned into people coming to a show and skateboarding became second," Waters says. After making a living in the skateboarding industry and being a "lifer" as he calls it, Waters still skateboards himself claiming "It's all I've ever known."

Since the emergence of backyard ramps converging with the punk scene in the early '80s, hardcore punk and skateboarding have been associated. "To me maybe its just refusing to give up the idealism and the dream, but it's always been hand-in-hand and it always will be for me," Waters says.

Watch the campaign video or go here to donate.

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