Gimme Shelter: The Refuge
By Courtney Donovan Smith
Translated by Naomi Lai
17, Alley 27, Lane 700, BuZi Rd
Wed-Sun approximately 5 pm-midnight
The Refuge grew organically from Paul (aka. "Boston Paul") Davis and his wife Sandra's love of sharing what they have with others, enjoyment of original music and art, and joy in being with friends who share these passions. It started in 2008 as a jam space for well-known local resident musician Paul and his friends and band-mates.
It grew, and grew, and is still growing today. They added a studio for live recordings, and then a library for foreign residents to find good English-language books to read. Gym equipment, a community bulletin board, a collection of CDs by local independent bands, and an audience area with seats and tables also became part of The Refuge. Just recently, a second seating area was created and resembles a beach-side cabana with stools and a high counter for people to talk a bit farther back from the bands. Now they're expanding an art gallery area. In short, this is a community and arts centre that comes together in the evenings. It is also an institutional party.
The Refuge is a partially converted home. The 'stage/studio' is a large room facing a lawn area, with the 'stage' decorated in a way that I could only describe as 'spiritual', reflecting their passion for the music that is made there. On the lawn are is a partially-covered area with tables and chairs, plus plenty of plants and little water fountains. Farther back is the covered 'beach cabana' area. The overall effect feels much like a hostel for backbackers in Thailand, or perhaps a mini-holiday from the city in Dakeng.
The guests are about an even mix of locals and foreigners. Most are musicians, artists and other creative types. The vibe is very mellow and friendly. One guest commented that "this is a place where it doesn't matter what your views are, you can just be". Another added that "it's a really supportive place". The Refuge also acts as a nerve centre for charitable and cultural activities, like the upcoming LUVstock on July 10 and 11 (search for 'LUVstock' on Facebook for more details) and the soon-to-be launched RefuZine. If you want to be part of a relaxed, friendly and creative community, this is the spot.
The Refuge is a bit hard to find, so once you're in the neighborhood you may need to call for directions or search Facebook for 'Refuge Taichung'.