The Flying Squirrel Community Center

The Flying Squirrel Community Center

I may be an unlikely supporter of a drug and alcohol free venue, but I believe The Flying Squirrel Community Center located on Clarissa st is doing something amazing for the music scene and the city as a whole. Besides acting as a meeting grounds for organizations ranging from Occupy Rochester to Alcoholics Anonymous, The Squirrel has been a center stone for local music, allowing those from all ages to attend.

And I am not the only one that feels this way. when the sounds system broke down Sage from Never Fading Promotions used his own money to buy the system. Now The Squirrel is raising money to give back to Sage, by hosting a Charity Show. We talked to Community Center employee,  (unofficial local music photographer), Al Brundage about the history of the Squirrel, and it’s importance to the local music scene.

Can you tell us about the history of The Flying Squirrel?

The original building was built in 1906, and I believe the building was added on to around 1950.  The building used to be a speak easy during prohibition; the door upstairs still has the slit they looked through.  After that the building was an Elk’s Club, I think it closed around 2001.

The property was bought back from the city in 2009 and after about 6 months of construction The Flying Squirrel was opened to the public Halloween of 2009.

The first concert we had here was in December. Flipshit preformed the first show with the Root Hogs, Death Camps, Declarations, and Monument AD. We host on average four shows a months, sometimes more, sometimes none.

Where did the name Flying Squirrel come from?

The founders was having a meeting with the realtors and they needed a name for the space. A squirrel flew buy so they decided to call it the flying squirrel.

Besides concerts what other events does the Community Center host?

Really the shows are not our primary mission. Its wasn’t set up as a concert venue and that is not it’s purpose. The Squirrel is mostly meant for meetings and for groups. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meets here.

Occupy Rochester, Rochester Red and Black, The Moorish Community all meet here monthly. Rochester Indie Media has a office in the front where they do a lot of the work.

We also have a library. All of the books are donated. Most of the books are about politics, art, or culture.

Do you think it is important to shows like these which are drug and alcohol free?

Absolutely, that’s how I personally got involved with this space.  I was around during the eighties, and there was an amazing music scene. That was until Reagan forced every state to raise the drinking age. Within two years of the drinking age going up the music scene was dead, there was nowhere for the bands to play anymore.

What this city needs is a place that shows can play at that is not predicated on the sale of alcohol. Probably 90% of the people who come here are too young to drink or don’t drink.

What I didn’t discover until I started working here is the straight edge movement, where bands will swear off drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex. A lot of times they will put an X before their name to show that they are straightedge. If there were not places like this I don’t think that movemtn would exist

Other than basements, and a couple of churches, there is no venue in town that is not a Bar first. Bands have trouble booking shows if they don’t bring in a crowd that drinks. We are not here to sell anything, we sell a flat fee to use the space and that is it.

Support the Flying Squirrel by going to the show. More info HERE

Check out events hosted at the center by visiting their webpage HERE



One comment on “The Flying Squirrel Community Center
  1. Ted Forsyth says:

    Hey There!

    Great article. I do feel sad I was unable to speak to person who was doing the interviews, but that’s life. I just wanted to clarify a few things:

    1) Our official name is “Flying Squirrel Community Space.” A lot of us felt that “center” was too tied to the language of state–funded or city–sponsored spaces. We’re neither.

    2) Al is not “an employee” though he certainly busts his ass for these shows and other events at the Squirrel. Al is a collective member. No bosses, no gods, and no masters. The Flying Squirrel is operated using democratic and consensual processes. No one is paid; everyone is a volunteer. The folks who make the decisions are the direct stakeholders in the space. The collective, the immediate community, and allies who want to participate make the decisions as to how the space will be used. We meet every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at 7pm. The meetings are open and anyone can come out. If you’re interested, please join us!

    3) The squirrel story. Haha. “The founders was having a meeting with the realtors and they needed a name for the space. A squirrel flew buy so they decided to call it the flying squirrel.” This is kind of half true. Some members were standing off in the parking lot discussing the pros and cons of buying the space. Our realtor was walking around to the other side just out of eye site when we heard a blood-curdling scream. We raced to see what was up and she told us that as she stood looking up at the roof, a squirrel jumped from the roof, seemingly floated down and landed on her foot! Shocked, she screamed and the squirrel walked away like nothing had happened. A week or so later, we found consensus on the name.

    Thanks again for the article! Thanks to Al for participating!
    Ted Forsyth
    Flying Squirrel Community Space

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