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Charleston owners hope their all-ages venue will be Bremerton landmark
Being an angry teenager in a small town with nowhere to go on a Friday night can be tough. The owners of the Charleston remember those days, and that’s why they say their all-ages music venue is here to stay.
The Charleston, at 333 Charleston St. in Bremerton, celebrated its fourth anniversary in April, and married owners Angel Perry and Andy More are buying the building.
The Charleston looks every inch a punk rock club, with black dividers plastered in stickers and bathrooms covered in graffiti. Metal, ska, punk and indie bands have all graced the stage.
More and Perry also play together in punk band Generation Decline.
“Being a young, pissed-off kid trying to stay out of jail, music was a good way to stay out of trouble,” More said.
More and Perry remember a period in the mid-2000s when public venues were hard to find. Every time one opened, Perry said noise complaints and police presence shut it down.
One day, More and Perry decided to make a call about the “For Rent” sign they saw on the Charleston’s door.
Perry said now, local musicians don’t have to worry about cranking up the amps.
“This is a theater, there’s solid concrete on every side,” she said.
Keeping the venue all-ages is important to them, though it required assuring the Washington Liquor Control Board that security would keep minors out of the roped-off bar area.
“We looked at venues like Hell’s Kitchen and El Corazon in Seattle, and they keep the bar area separate, and we were like, we can do that,” said Perry.
The first couple years were full of challenges, from low ticket sales to disapproving police.
“But we started getting a lot of support,” More said. “Now cops prefer to have a place local kids can go and stay out of trouble.”
Perry said they haven’t had many problems with fights or underage drinking. “A lot of people respect what we’re trying to do here, they think twice before sneaking people into the bar section,” she said.
It’s the couple’s first time running a venue. They’ve had to learn how to apply for a liquor license, fix plumbing, wire electricity and install a divider between the bar and all-ages section.
But when the historic theater building fills with teenagers, adults and rock and roll, More said the 30-year mortgage and headaches are worth it.
The Charleston has hosted bands from around the world, including the legendary UK punk band The Business.
More and Perry said several bands have loved the energetic crowd and decided to make Bremerton an additional stop on their Northwest tours.
“We’re putting Bremerton back on the map,” Perry said.
Show listings for the Charleston are available at thecharleston333.com.