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Beloved Independent Music Venue in Historic Filipinotown Officially Closing

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]fter more than 20 years in business, the Bootleg Theater in Historic Filipinotown is officially closing its doors. Co-owner Jason Adams broke the news to L.A. TACO on June 10, while he and his partner, Alicia Adams, returned to the theater to retrieve the iconic metal sign that hung outside their Beverly Boulevard location for decades. “There is no question that the best nights of our life (so far) were spent at the Bootleg,” the couple said in a statement to L.A. TACO yesterday. There are currently no plans to move the business—which served as a safe space for punk rockers, bar room wrestlers, poets, and local actors—to a new location.

The closure might come as a surprise to "bootleggers" who recently received emails about live events returning to the 1930s-era theater after more than a year of hiatus. The veteran promoters weren't planning on walking away from a business that they worked diligently to keep independent and alive during the pandemic. When bars and entertainment venues shuttered in early March of last year, the pair had just come off their most successful year.

Even after they were forced to close their doors due to COVID-19—a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, community support through a Go Fund Me campaign as well as city and county grants—helped them remain solvent during the toughest period that entertainment venues had faced in decades.

Jason explained to L.A. TACO that at the end of the day, the abrupt closure was the result of a messy partnership. “Before the pandemic hit, we had reached an impasse of irreconcilable differences with the partner we originally purchased the property with in 1999,” the couple said in a statement.

The couple reportedly attempted to buy out the silent partner’s share in the business, while also turning down offers from Live Nation and developers eager to flip the sizable commercial lot into a luxury development, but ultimately had to give in.

The pandemic was the nail in the coffin for the live music and theater venue. “The crush of a COVID closure made the situation even more untenable for us,” the couple said in a statement sent to The Taco.

The closure of The Bootleg and the consolidation of other small venues in Southern California has created a void in the independent Los Angeles concert venue scene. “Who else is there?” Jason asked as he and his wife cleaned out the theater that they partially raised their kids in. Down the street, a new Target is set to open up soon as luxury developments break ground.

Although the couple is planning on turning over the keys to the original Bootleg Theater location to a new owner, they plan on continuing to promote virtual performances and live events at other locations in the future. They also remain hopeful that the space will continue to serve as a venue for the independent arts rather than evolve into unaffordable housing. Jason declined to state on record which organization would be moving into the space but in their statement, the couple mentioned that the buyer came in last minute to save the nearly 100-year-old theater from demolition. “The silver lining is that we are passing the torch to two Angelenos who have the dream and vision of a new version of a performance space at what will be affectionately known to all of us as "the old Bootleg space.”

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