ONCE Ballroom burglarized, GoFundMe set up for venue


Studio 52 is a community artist space located in the heart of Allston, and is proud to support the Boston music scene and local artist community.

Somerville’s ONCE Ballroom and Lounge was burglarized this week, with a thief or thieves causing significant damage to the venue and making out with its bar and door money. The incident went down overnight between Wednesday (May 23) and Thursday (May 24), and has left ONCE shaken.

“We got hit when we’re down,” ONCE owner JJ Gonson tells Vanyaland this morning. “We think this person snuck into the club while we were open and hid somewhere. The door alarm didn’t go off. They tore apart the office and did considerable damage.”

Gonson also says the burglary “has shaken us emotionally and shaken us financially.”

The hit comes at a particularly tough time for the independent venue, as it has struggled financially and now faces the summer-month schedule when business is traditionally lighter due to fewer events on the calendar. ONCE had been dealing with the loss of the Rock And Roll Rumble, which normally fills nine nights in April but was postponed indefinitely as a result of a change of ownership by its host company, WZLX 100.7 FM.

The longtime curator of the Rumble, Anngelle Wood, last night created a GoFundMe page to help recoup some of ONCE’s losses and help it recover. Gonson tells Vanyaland she was first apprehensive about reaching out to the community. But she admitted this morning she and her staff are “blown away by the outpouring of support” and that “in many ways this place belongs to the community.”

In her GoFund Me, which has a goal of $20,000, Wood writes that ONCE “is one of the last remaining independently-owned spaces around,” and felt the motivated to create the fundraiser as she “felt the void” from last month’s Rumble postponement.

“We learned today that the venue was vandalized and robbed,” Wood writes. “This is a tough blow, and just as the club enters into the historically leaner months on the concert calendar. Please join together in offering support and throw them a line. This fund will assist the club in the fixes it needs and to face the aforementioned lean times.”

Many in the music community took to social media to express support for ONCE.

“It’s amazing to me that people don’t understand that an independently owned venue is not some money making machine that you can just take from with no worry,” writes Aaron Gray, who books shows at ONCE under the Grayskull Booking banner. “You are hurting everyone in the community when you do that not to mention the people that work there who probably just served you last night. Maybe they were desperate? So what, who isn’t? Bottom line is people really don’t go out much anymore and most of these places are hanging on by a thread so to take from some place you literally just enjoyed being in is super messed up. May karma beat you like the dog you are.”

ONCE’s concert and live performance calendar carries on tonight as Grayskull Booking hosts a metal show with Khemmis, Wormwood, and Sea. Future events in the coming weeks at ONCE include Trashcan Sinatras (June 1), La Luz (June 6), Todd Barry (June 8), Skating Polly and Potty Mouth (June 10) and The Posies (June 15).

Featured ONCE photo by Cara DiFabio for Vanyaland.