Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Underground music venue The Bel-Tower fights to stay open

The fate of all-ages, underground music venue The Bel-Tower is up in the air after a weekend in which the club was shut down by local authorities and its loyal fans began a campaign to save the Belmont Avenue space.

The Bel-Tower — which holds about 100 people for shows and is at 69 E. Belmont Ave. — had a meeting at noon today to talk to Fresno PD and local Alcoholic Beverage Control. Afterward, the club beckoned its devotees for a discussion about the venue’s future.

We’ll probably hear specifics from those meetings soon, but it’s already sounds like The Bel-Tower will need to get the proper permits to operate as a venue. Management is anticipating some repair costs to get the place up to code, as well.

There’s a “Save the Bel-Tower” petition circulating online and a fundraising campaign that so far has only yielded $30.

Don’t take that to mean nobody cares. Quite the contrary, actually. As you can see in the above video, the venue is a meeting place for young punk/hardcore fans. It’s a place to see cheap shows put on by local and touring bands. And it’s one of the few all-ages venues in town –legitimate or otherwise.

Here’s more of what The Bel-Tower is all about, per its Indie GoGo page:

The Bel-Tower is an all ages space in Fresno, CA. We opened on October 12, 2010 and have already made it further than we ever thought we could, given the type of issues DIY venues face every day. Our space is owned entirely by women and people of color, and all of us are students. It is located in a less-than-perfect neighborhood, one that the city has all but forgotten. It’s intended to be completely free of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, violence, and disrespect of any kind. We’ve spent thousands of dollars and countless hours over the past year or so improving our building, our relationships with the people and businesses in the area, our ways of doing business, and the quality of our shows, but now, we’re in trouble.

Until now, we’ve been able to do things with very little attention from any form of law enforcement. However, on February 3, we were shut down by the Fresno PD and the ABC (despite the fact that we are an alcohol-free space) for lack of permits despite the fact that we operate as a non-profit (with no tax exempt status yet) private club with membership. Therefore, we can no longer do shows, which pay the bulk of our rent and utilities, and we need thousands of dollars to get our building up to code and get the necessary paperwork and permits to keep our space going.

Responses to "Underground music venue The Bel-Tower fights to stay open"

Franco says:

oh no the Belch tower!

Stephen says:

On the Conservative side: The place wasn’t ever run properly, the ‘membership’ thing was a lark, and getting alcohol in there was a breeze.

On the Liberal Side: Why the eff does Fresno PD and ABC care??? The place has had some calls for service, and one very notable pepper-spray incident, but no problems comparable to places with “permits” (Bobby’s and Laughing Buddha anyone?).

My personal opinion?

This day has been coming since they opened and no one should be surprised it happened. Since they’re a guerilla operation anyway, close shop, rip out what you paid for, and move to the next decent location until you get shut down there.

aren hekimian says:

can we somehow get Starline to be all ages again??

Famous says:

I love the Bel-Tower. My band probably played more there than at any other venue in the last year. I’m surprised the place was able to last as long it did. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. It’s just the way of things.

DB says:

It’s the same old story. Back when I was young it was all about the underground dance community. We used to brake into abandoned houses or warehouses with a generator, turntalbes, and a stobe light and made something out of nothing. I feel for these kids. I hope they kind co operate with the powers that be and keep this place alive. If not,they’ll have to go back to the drawing board and find another spot, like we used to do. Only thing is, you get older, end up getting stuff on your criminal record, and the “scene” becomes less important.

Chris says:

This place was infested with junkie dope fiends anyway. Not a safe place at all. Glad to see it close, these people don’t know how to run things. To much underage drinking.

anon says:

Chris, actually, yes the place was invested with junkies when it was first opened, but the staff cleaned the place up and started enforcing the rules. Don’t talk about a place you’ve probably never been to if you’re going to base your opinion on what you’ve heard on the streets, most of which was eliminated, even the owners of Bel Tower don’t want those junkie sh** heads around. Think before you speak.

Franco says:

I think the name should have been ‘Belch tower’ all along, maybe it was the wrong name choice…
Sux for the startup bands that played there but oh well in this economy whatdya expect

Famous says:

My band played there a lot in the last year and the crowd I saw wasn’t any worse (and probably better in a lot cases) that what you see at any other venue in town. It’s just easy to scapegoat punk kids.