It has been over 20 years since I reluctantly accepted a job to help run Rhino’s All Ages Club.
In the summer of 1992, Steve “Roc” Bonchek, Executive Director of what is now the Harmony Education Center, hired me to run the one night a week, youth led, punk rock club. I took the job because I needed a job, and I could be around loud music and even louder young people. I was skeptical, however. Having been in Bloomington for over 10 years, and having played in bands, I knew All Ages Clubs came and went like an Adam Sandler movie – quickly and without much impact.
But, from the very start, Rhino’s was different.
First of all, it was run by a group of dedicated and energetic teenagers, who desperately wanted an all ages music venue, and they were willing to work hard to make it happen. Secondly, it was a not-for-profit venture. All Ages Clubs failed because, without alcohol sales, there wasn’t any profit in them. Rhino’s was never intended to make a profit. Rhino’s existed to give young people a safe place to listen to music. The audience came not to drink or to be seen, but because they loved the music, and they NEEDED this place.
It worked, and it worked well.
And it still does. Now, Rhino’s All Ages Club is Rhino’s Youth Center. We offer a variety of after-school programs in media and art. We provide job training, computer skills, internet access, and mental health referral services. Rhino’s offers a place for youth meetings, youth theater, and just a safe, fun place to hang out. We have digital video studio, a digital audio studio, a screen printing set up, and much more. We operate the Southern Indiana Hub for VOICE, the state’s youth-led, youth-empowering anti-tobacoo industry movement. Partnerships with the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, the United Way, Monroe County CARES, WFHB, CATS, and more have strengthened our programming, and helped us provide area youth with a viable alternative to risky behavior and provide self-worth and sense of community.
But with all that has changed and grown, we still offer music to all ages at least 2 nights a week. We are still a division of the Harmony Education Center, and I’m still here. My job is mainly administrative these days. I deal a lot with grants and fundraising, and traveling across the state for VOICE, but I am no longer skeptical about Rhino’s. Each time I see a young band, 14, 15, 16 year-olds, set up on the stage for the first time, I get that rush I got the first time I saw a band at Rhino’s 20 years ago. They still need this place, and I need it too.
Director, Rhino’s Youth Center
There are many different was you can help us continue Rhino’s Youth Center’s mission.
We need Advisory Board members. We need help with fundraising and public relations. We need couches.
If you’d like to help, please give me a call at 812-333-3430, or write to PO Box 1727, Bloomington, IN 47402, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or even stop by at 331 S Walnut.