This weekend marks the eight-year anniversary of one of Calgary’s longest running nightclubs, Habitat Living Sound. Eight upbeat years of a fun, friendly, community driven homestead.  Freq caught up with Mikey Da Roza, Habitat’s entertainment director, and chatted about the past, present, and future of the club.

Freq: I know you’ve been in and around the Calgary music scene for many years before you landed at Habitat. So, where did its inception begin, who’s involved, and how did it all come to be?

Mikey Da Roza: I had been kicking around the idea of a nightclub for sometime before I was approached by Cary Chang. I think it was in late 2006, early 2007. We sat down for a coffee and started to chat and brainstorm about how a project like this could breathe life. He had already been speaking with John Liwag on the other side – he was the conduit, so to speak. In retrospect, it feels like the three of us were ready for something new. Cary had recently come off closing Feroshus Records, John had also just closed Cherry Lounge (both were important, historic institutions in the Calgary dance music scene), and I was also taking the bumpy road of promoter with my company at the time, Aqua Audio.

When we all started to meet regularly, it just felt right. We started to actively look for locations and hammering out our vision. Once we landed the Castle Pub space, it was time for demo & construction. Because we were on a really tight budget, the three of us were very hands on with the demo and rebuilding of the space. It’s really special to see your own hard work be represented in these walls. To know you put in your own blood, sweat and tears to build something that so many people hold close to their hearts. This is our home.

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Freq: Was it hard starting out at first? What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced?

I remember our opening night, it was quite a race to the finish. Paint was still drying on the walls and it was horrible outside. Probably to the tune of -20 or -30 deep freeze. It was also just before 2008, where the market in Calgary crashed, and to say we had to battle to keep those doors open would be an understatement. Like any venue, you also need to find your identity. I think many places want to be “everything to everyone” but the reality is, the crowd and community shape who you ultimately become. We’ve been enjoying the trials and tribulations. Because, like anything, they ultimately form who you become. In eight years, we’ve managed to continue to bring world class international DJs to our room, yet still invest and curate a local scene which is thriving in its own right. We are so excited to see what the next few years become within our four walls.

Freq: Any highlights, favorite acts or memories that stick out, in particular?

Honestly, there are so many good memories and acts to name. Because we’re DJ owned and operated, we all have different moments that stand out for us. Some of my fondest memories there involve getting lost on that dance floor, surrounded by people who are there for that exact same reason. What I love about Habitat the most is its charm – we’re a nondescript building from the front, with no real branding like, hidden treasure. We really wanted to go for that Montreal/New York feel where patrons can have a sense of discovery and adventure. Where you walk in and it’s this packed micro-club, with great people and amazing music. We’re also the longest current PK Sound installation in Calgary, something that we’re very proud of.

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Freq:  You’ve had some great staff members over the years that I know of. How does that help with creating a good environment for people to enjoy?

Staffing is extremely important as they are your front line for any customer. We’ve been lucky to have some amazing staff past and present. The most impactful thing is having those staff members who also believe in the vision, who are fans of the music and are as passionate as we are. We’ve also been very blessed to have developed a good family of DJs and promoters within our network, who continue to thrive and push the musical boundaries for us.

unspecified-3Freq: What do you hope for the future of Habitat and the Calgary dance music scene? In what ways do you want to continue to contribute?

We hope that more people discover our micro-club concept and continue to enjoy our space for years to come. The goal is to hit that ten-year milestone and become an institution within Calgary’s dance music history. We’re really just a couple of guys who really are passionate about music & nightlife, who are going to continue to push the boundaries and challenge our customers to become deeper fans of not only our venue, but music as well. Habitat Living Sound – some call it house, we call it home.

Join our friends at Habitat to celebrate eight years of music Saturday January 28, 2017!

Words by Jay King

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