The Squatters’ Speakeasy is the working title of my novel in progress. A regular blues jam in the caretaker’s cottage slowly slithers into the trophy house just up the drive. No one really notices when artists start hanging their work on the walls, or when one woman commandeers the restaurant-sized kitchen and starts making cookies for the concertgoers. When do the jams turn into concerts? No one notices that either.
For quite a few years, roughly 1986 to 1994, I was a regular volunteer and occasional performer (spoken-word division) at Wintertide Coffeehouse. I still miss it. Wintertide was so much more than a performance space. Wintertide drew in musicians, writers, poets, techies, visual artists, actors, cooks, and organizers, yes, but even more important it turned “ordinary” people — US — into musicians, writers, poets, techies, etc., etc. It fostered connections and collaborations that changed lives. Did you know that the W in WIMP, the stand-out improv troupe of Vineyard young people, originally stood for Wintertide? That’s where it all started.
I’m trying to imagine my way to the Squatters’ Speakeasy because I need it for my own creative survival. Speakeasy creation, however, is not a solitary endeavor, so I’ve hijacked the Squatters’ domain name for From the Seasonally Occupied Territories. A virtual Speakeasy is emerging on Martha’s Vineyard, in blogs and websites and inspired Facebook organizing. This blog is thrilled to be part of it.