Photo courtesy of Donald Cassel
Los Angeles DIY venue Purple 33 was shut down earlier this month by authorities, continuing a string of underground space shutdowns in the weeks following the fatal Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.
Purple 33, located on the Westside in Del Rey, was a makeshift live/work and entertainment space owned by Donald Cassel, LA Weekly reports. In recent months, it has hosted music shows featuring local DJ talent including Fritz Carlton, Ciszak, and Freddy Be; in addition to events spanning comedy and film.
Inspectors arrived at the venue on Thursday, December 8, and fire department spokesperson Peter Sanders told the Weekly that they found multiple building violations, including "an illegally constructed bar, dance floor and DJ booth, as well as illegal wiring throughout, in addition to multiple living spaces that did not have permits." Despite these citations, Cassel maintained that the venue was safe, telling the Associated Press it has multiple exits, fire extinguishers, and an exit plan that would have everyone evacuated within two minutes.
Before opening Purple 33, Cassel had founded another similar venue called Area 33. According to the Weekly, he applied for a nightclub permit to make the space legitimate, but was denied by the Del Rey Neighborhood Council. He says he spent more than $70,000 on associated costs, including "permit applications, fees and other expenses." When opening Purple 33, he decided to forego the same process, saying, "It's so frightening to go to these people, because they'll take your money and just say no."
Similar venues have come under scrutiny since the Oakland fire killed 36 people at a multi-purpose gathering on December 2. Baltimore art/work space The Bell Foundry and Denver DIY venue Rhinoceropolis were shut down by authorities for reportedly unsafe building conditions, while spaces in cities such as Nashville, Austin, and New Haven are on high alert, though no shutdowns have been reported as of yet. Recently, 4chan users launched a campaign to shut down DIY venues as a means of "[crushing] the radical left."
As a response to the shutdown, Cassel is calling for a streamlining of the permitting process and easier communication with authorities so that spaces like Purple 33 can operate legally—otherwise, he tells the AP, "It's just going to go deeper underground." Watch his video interview below, courtesy of the AP.