18 to 21 dance at Sounderground
Behind Red Zone and directly across from Ashland Drug sits the newest addition to Ashland’s admittedly sparse nightlife: Sounderground. With nothing but a small sign, the only indicator patrons are in the correct location — the electronic dance club is easy to miss. However, the 18-plus venue has amassed a niche following primarily through word-of-mouth as well as advertisements on Snapchat and Facebook.
“There’s not a lot for 18 to 21 year olds to do,” says DJ Jeffery Smith, one of the minds behind the venue. “There’s a huge market here and a hungry crowd looking for something fun to do. This is good clean fun. Come dance. It’s a safe environment we monitor closely.”
The club does not have a liquor license and has no plans to obtain one. It also is prepared to refuse service to anyone under the influence.
“We wanted to create a safe place, a nondiscriminatory place, where people can come and dance to some really good music and feel a sense of community and feel like there is a safe place to just let their hair down and have a good time,” Smith says.
With a staff of at least four people, including a registered trauma nurse, a major goal of the venue is to ensure everyone feels and stays safe while having fun.
Smith is one of the business partners of Silent Discos in Lithia Park. He and his partners wanted to branch out to continue putting events on in the winter and continue offering music production classes, event production classes, and DJ classes for people in the area.
“Teaching is one of my passions,” Smith says, who's worked as a DJ for 18 years. “So we’re going to continue DJ and music production workshops.”
He first became interested in DJ-ing by going to raves and music festivals. Then he decided to create the music himself. He and his team also intend to use the club as a home base from which to explore larger ventures and outside shows like the one they held on New Year’s Eve at the old Ashland Armory.
Sounderground showcases local and Oregon-based DJs with whom Smith has connections.
“There’s a huge network of a lot of people who know each other in the electronic music scene,” he says. “It is the perfect forum for younger DJs to get exposure and experience.”
The club began its Saturday night shows a month ago. The past few weekends, the club has seen its peak number of guests after 11 p.m., and they averaged a total of 100 total guests on any given evening — though not at the same time as there is a capacity limit of 49.
Saturday's hours are 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. There is a cover of $7.