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ABOVE: A belly dancer performs on Friday night at The Mobius

The Mobius does not necessarily look like a typical concert hall. More like a large apartment.

Yes, there are the more typical facets: a stage, a large dance floor, and sound system, but there is more. Couches and chairs are placed in good proximity to the stage, giving the venue a more feel-at-home vibe. Concertgoers take advantage of it, too, frequently flocking to the couches, putting their arms around each other and sipping tea while watching the acts under a softly lit stage.

“I tell people it’s my living room,” said Marla Welp, a long-time Mobius employee. “I spend all my waking hours down here.”

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What started as a small production and multimedia design company on New Years of 2001 has grown into one of the most frequented all-ages concert halls in Ashland.

The building space formerly went under the name Abdil Ellis, a gay and lesbian support group meeting room. When owner Crystal Soufer went to work on it, she did a nearly complete reconstruction. Walls were removed to give more space, and a stage, café, and audio recording studio were constructed. The original landlord had also wired the space as production-capable. Barely any additional electrical work had to be done.

“We really lucked out with that,” Soufer said.

In addition to production, multimedia, and live music, the Mobius also hosts regular poetry slams. Winners walk away with a $50 cash prize.

“As a friend said, ‘That’s the most you’re going to make as a poet in your lifetime,’” said Welp.

The venue also boasts a monthly art walk on the first Friday of every month, displaying works from local artists.

“We’re definitely into art in all of its forms,” Welp said.

Welp credits the Mobius’s success to their interest in selecting acts that are able to not only entertain all that walk through the doors, but to affect them on an emotional level, whether that be through art, music, or just meeting someone new.

“I feel very strongly that that’s something that’s very much needed,” Welp said. “Our community is very strong culturally, and Ashland’s all about the arts, but there seems to be a strange lack of options when it comes to live music. We’re working really hard to provide the community with a place to come and connect and dance and hear good music.”

With regards to the future, the employees at the Mobius want to see it transform into a venue that is capable of even more. In addition to picking their production emphasis back up, the Mobius is also working to package live music recordings into multimedia DVD packages. Several aspects of getting the capability up and running have yet to be finalized, but the beginning of these new opportunities is close at hand.

“This space is perfect for what it is right now,” Soufer said. “But our intention is coming full circle.”

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The newest project will eventually partner the Mobius with EQTV, an international Internet-based public access television network that connects communities through individual community art exhibits, multimedia presentations, and educational programming.

“That’s the larger vision of the Mobius,” Soufer said. “To provide and distribute content that’s educational and entertaining.”

With so many evolutionary changes on the horizon, those who maintain the Mobius remain optimistic in the venue’s mission by seeing the changes that occur in people who go to shows.

“Our mission is Ashland is basically to provide a place for people to connect and to experience live music and art, but also to participate,” Welp said. “I like to think the people leave here feeling happier.”

For more information on the Mobius and EQTV, visit <www.themobius.com>, or <www.eq.tv>.