The spirit that drove Gainesville — the former punk hotspot of Florida — to its local prominence transmuted. Embracing its resourcefulness by any means necessary, it did not lose its decentralized creative community after the ‘90s. It thrives in the form of DIY artists and venues.
By definition, the “do-it-yourself” philosophy focuses on rallying resources to create a product. Artists use the resources already at their disposal and collaborate to put on shows at unconventional venues, like houses, storage units or bookstores. Buildings and businesses, like Roadhouse DIY, How Bazar and the Moisturizer Gallery, offer non-traditional spaces for local creatives to explore their art.
For musicians, this can look like independently recording music and booking shows, while for visual artists, it can look like using affordable materials as the base of their craft.
This scene, while supportive and interesting, hides within underground venues and word-of-mouth promoting. Advertisements restricted to flyers posted in local small businesses or social media promotion sometimes limit newcomers’ access — finding the trenched treasures is a matter of following the right people and going to the right places.
It’s all about showing up, Roadhouse DIY event coordinator Bri Reed said.
Reed’s home houses an independent organization and live music space, which puts on about six live shows — from punk, rock and folk to rap and indie pop — every month. Some attend for the music, while others attend for the community of it.
“I want to give everybody that plays music a chance to showcase that,” Reed said. “Just get in here. Just play a show, just see what happens. And that's I feel like a big part of DIY, too; just figure it out. Let's roll with it, no pressure.”
House shows’ intimate, homey feel breaks the ice for new visitors who might not be familiar with playing or attending live shows. Reed often approaches new faces to help them feel welcome.
This same close-knit atmosphere also keeps disrespectful concertgoers away from the shows. After all, no one wants to cause trouble at someone’s house, and Reed doesn’t welcome trouble either.
At Roadhouse shows, accessibility is a priority. The shows operate on sliding scale door fees to make sure they’re affordable to anyone interested in having a good time.
Flyers, stickers and chalk art unveil DIY events to patrons paying attention to the dates and locations on display.
Owned by Phillip “Worm” Harris, Books and Music, Wormhole offers a hand-curated selection of about 10,000 books, records and art displays on 1801 NE 23rd Avenue, near local favorites Satchel’s Pizza, the Repurpose Project and spiritual shop Blu Crystal.
“The rule of thumb for me is if I think it's something that I would read, I try to put it out there,” Harris said. “More than anything, I try to curate.”
The bookstore exemplifies how the DIY approach looks in local creative spaces. Visual artists display and sell their art, with all the proceeds going directly to them. Local or state-based authors can sell their books and have them displayed in a section at the front of the shop, and poets can read their work for a live audience.
Its live music events feature different genres, from eccentric electronic sounds to laid-back jazz performances.
The Civic Media Center also offers space for creative events among a collection of books. Workshops, gatherings, discussions and readings foster community building and social advocacy on 433 S. Main Street.
Four blocks away, The How Bazar regularly hosts arts markets and other live events focused on the display of local arts and music.
The creative community exists beyond physical spaces; media, either online or printed in zines, discuss creative, cultural and political topics, and outline upcoming events.
The Ashtray rallied for its roots with its latest front page announcing Fox Lounge and the Hardback Cafe’s recent closures. A proclamation for the future of the scene sprawled across the edition’s typical photocopied collage of illustrations and words.
“Now is the time, more than ever, for house/DIY shows if you have the ability to organize,” the Ashtray wrote.
Kristine Villarroel is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator's Summer 2023 Engagement Managing Editor. She previously worked in the Avenue and Caimán desks as an editor and reporter. In her free time, she looks for dusty fur coats at antique shops and pretends not to be a hater on Twitter.