Blake Northfield, the vocalist in local hardcore band Step Ahead, was ecstatic to learn the Byron Bay Youth Activity Centre could be open by the end of the year.
Blake Northfield, the vocalist in local hardcore band Step Ahead, was ecstatic to learn the Byron Bay Youth Activity Centre could be open by the end of the year. Brenden Allen

Byron youth laments loss of 'hardcore' music venue

BLAKE Northfield and his mates are frustrated the Byron Youth Activities Centre is still not available for live music, 18 months after Byron Shire Council closed it as an entertainment venue.

Mr Northfield said he started going to 'hardcore' shows at the council-owned venue in 2003, and described it as an 'eye-opener'.

"I thought 'this is great' and started going to every show and just fell in love with the music," he said.

The venue was regularly attracting crowds of up to 300 young people. The gigs were drug and alcohol-free with hardcore music closely aligned with the teetotal subculture known as 'straight edge'.

Exponents of straight edge don't use any form of drugs, or participate in promiscuous sex.

Since the venue was closed because it didn't have a Place of Public Entertainment licence, Mr Northfield said they had struggled to find an alternative space. Byron High School was used sometimes, but wasn't always available to fit with the schedule of touring bands.

"People don't have that outlet to let out anger and energy any more. Instead of going to shows on Thursday nights they are going out on the streets on Friday, which can cause all sorts of problems," he said.

Mr Northfield said he had been working with Byron Shire Council Youth Development Officer Rita Youssef to find ways to improve facilities for young people in Byron Shire, and was hoping the venue would soon be available for all forms of music.

He said they also wanted to meet with police, who often had a negative perception of young people who aligned themselves with the straight edge crowd.

Byron Shire Council's Governance and Community Services Director, Mark Arnold, said he was in the process of calling tenders to do the necessary work on the venue and hoped to put a recommendation to the council in August.

"From there we are looking to have works progress in September and October, and have the centre open as soon as possible after that," Mr Arnold said.

When told the venue could be open again by the end of the year, Mr Northfield said he was 'ecstatic'. "That's great. It's been nearly two years waiting for that moment," he said.


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