The Garage's founder aims to take the club experience back to its musical roots
The garage is usually where people store old things that have such strong feelings attached to them, they could never be thrown away.
It's only fitting that this is the name for a dance club trying to pump feeling back into music.
The Garage is an underground disco and dance club created by Billy Keohane, an accomplished hair stylist and the owner of Push Push Salon in St. Augustine which shares a 5,000-square-foot building with The Garage.
Keohane started DJing about 15 years ago and has been collecting vinyl records ever since — his stash now numbers more than 2,000. His love of music is deeply intertwined with his love for hairstyling and his goal was to create a place that the community would want to be in, for either reason.
The Garage has been hosting events for the last two years, and Keohane has worked to create an underground environment that's hip and trendy.
During some events, The Garage also sells annual memberships for $30. At select shows, members receive free or reduced admission, skip-the-line privileges and entry to member-only events that include giveaways including T-shirts, vinyl and free drinks.
Keohane said the memberships help build a core following and bring a sense of community, which helps the overall experience.
Keohane described The Garage as very raw and minimal, like a 1970s sweatbox. He stressed that his goal is to bring an experience that is all about the music.
"There's no bar, and we don't sell alcohol," Keohane said. "There is just an open concrete floor for people to dance."
Keohane's goal for The Garage is to help get musical entertainment to being about the music again and not alcohol sales. He said that dancing and electronic music have also been associated with drugs in recent years and he wants to get away from all of that.
He also stresses authenticity in the music and makes a point to have live instrument players at every show, ranging from drummers and bass guitar players to even saxophone and horn players. He also said his events are vinyl-only, so the DJs are actually spinning and performing on stage, rather than playing files they created with mixing programs.
The Garage plays a wide variety of music, ranging from older music like funk to new music not even out yet. Age doesn't matter when it comes to genuine music, and Keohane wants the musical experience to be as good as it can be for everyone.
"Everything we're trying to do, from the presentation to the actual music and the way we set it up, we're trying to de-modernize it and go back to its roots," he said.
Artists who have performed at The Garage include Roy Davis Jr., Master Kev, DJ Kermit, Leonard Remix Roy and DJ KC. Kermit is a Grammy-nominated artist and Davis was actually referenced in the Daft Punk song "Teachers" as a teacher of house music.
After Davis played at The Garage, he jumped to Twitter to give his opinion.
"That party was so underground, people were wearing robes," Davis commented.
Keohane has no idea what that means, but he appreciated the compliment and the mention by a musical legend.
The Garage will move its next show to The Standard on July 27 to allow for bigger capacity.
The show will feature Rich Medina, a DJ and producer from New York City. Medina, who began his career in Lakewood, N.J., has been performing for almost 20 years. His music includes hip-hop, house, Afrobeat, funk and soul.
Keohane wants to remind people about the forgotten emotions attached to good music, like those dusty records hidden under your old pool table — you know, the one with the broken leg that leans.
Maybe it's time you got them out, cleaned them off and went to The Garage.