Female-founded house show venue creates safe space for fans


Photo courtesy of @thepowderroom_urbana Instagram

Kangaroo Court performs outside The Powder Room for their Punk vs Funk night on Nov. 13. The DIY venue is located in Urbana, and offers an open and safe space for the C-U music community.

By Marilyn MacLaren, Staff Writer

The Powder Room is a new music venue located in Urbana that aspires to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all kinds of fans in the music community. 

Run by five seniors at the University, the house provides a platform for local bands to showcase their music and fans to come together and enjoy the atmosphere.

The DIY venue was started by seniors Marissa Cowan, Daria Wendell, Sarah Fries, Isabel Cassin and Rose Carroll, all who had been actively involved in the music scene since freshman year. 

After moving in together, the girls combined their love for the Champaign-Urbana music community by deciding to give running a house show venue a try. 

Wendell described the house as the “perfect location right in the heart of Urbana and Campustown” to create a welcoming space for every kind of fan. 

A venue called “The Powder Room” is likely to get a few raised eyebrows, and Carroll gave quite the backstory as to how she came up with such a unique name for a music venue. 

She said she and her family used to watch old movies together, where films such as “The Glass Bottom Boat” would feature characters voicing their visit to the powder room. 

“It just made me think of how it used to be like a girl’s hangout and a place for girls to go,” Carroll said. “It resembles more than just ‘bathroom’ you know, a place for females to gather, and as an all-female house, we really wanted our name to reflect who we all are.”

An unofficial pre-show before the venue had its iconic name was held on November 10, with a Punk vs. Funk night featuring The Data Waves and Kangaroo Court. After a great turnout, the girls decided it was time for the house to make its debut.

The first official show was held on March 25 at 8 p.m. with a variety of bands coming out to introduce the venue to the community, including New Game, Soft and Dumb, the Knee Hi’s and Kangaroo Court as the grand finale.

Wendell described the event as “perfect chaos with all the best kinds of problems,” and Cassin added that the initial reception was “above and beyond” anything the girls had been expecting.

There were some difficulties with the transition between the living and entertainment space, but these girls knew how to make it work and devoted plenty of time to prepare the venue for its first show. 

Wendell described how they “flip the space into what we want it to be” in order to make room for the band, equipment and plenty of fans.

“The fun of it for us is manipulating the space to create the vision that we have,” she said.

Because the girls are graduating soon, they’ve had some struggles deciding what the future of The Powder Room will look like for the rest of the semester. 

Luckily, people who missed The Powder Room’s debut can look forward to one last big show before summer break. The founders plan to give smaller bands the opportunity to showcase their music. 

The five seniors have put their heart and soul into their venue, along with all the help from friends and musicians put into making the first show a success. 

“We could not have done this show without the community of Urbana,” Cassin said about the support the group received. “It’s a huge effort, and we could not do it without these people.”

The seniors hope that The Powder Room lives on, and they have plans to keep it going after graduation with new tenants lined up to continue providing a safe space for the community and the music scene of Champaign-Urbana to thrive.

For more information, check out @thepowederroom_urbana on Instagram for updates and any news about upcoming events.


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