Photo by June Zandona

Generations, a New Kind of Venue, Opens on Capitol Hill

What’s next for the space formerly known as Cairo? Whatever you want.

When beloved all-ages music venue and boutique Cairo (507 E. Mercer St.) shuttered in June after eight years, it left a vacancy in the Capitol Hill arts scene. Now, the establishment’s next incarnation, Generations, hopes to pick up where Cairo left off by offering a rentable event space anyone can use.

Since Cairo’s demise, the single-story space has undergone a minimalist makeover. Where once the building was crammed wall-to-wall with Cairo’s carefully curated bric-a-brac, Generations is clean, bright, and blank, the sheer whiteness of its original plaster walls interrupted only by the verdancy of a few potted succulents. The wall separating the retail space from the back room has been torn down to reveal glass windowpanes, and a hallway has been added. Illuminated by natural light and the glow of a few spare Edison bulbs, the formerly cramped building feels newly airy and spacious.

The founders of Generations—former Cairo owners Aimee Butterworth and Joel Leshefka (who still run Cairo’s sister shop in Ballard, Prism) and Zachary St. John—hope that Seattle artists and makers from all walks of life will pack this spare, empty space with their own creative visions. That could mean anything from a karaoke party to a pop-up retail shop.

Describing the ideal scenario for a typical day at Generations, St. John suggests the space might be occupied by a fitness instructor teaching a martial-arts class in the morning, a photographer shooting a local designer’s clothing in the afternoon, and a musician recording in the evening: “We’d really be supporting all these different communities on Capitol Hill.”

Generations is open for booking now and comes equipped with resources, including a sound system for musical performances and optional lighting for photography shoots. In the tradition of Cairo’s DIY, community-based ethos, Generations aims to maximize accessibility by offering a tiered pricing structure, starting at $25 an hour. “If someone’s an aspiring yogi and they want to start their own community, they don’t have to go rent a space on Broadway that could cost them $3,000 or $4,000 a month,” says St. John.

Though the focus will be on client-hosted happenings, Generations will present community events at least once a month and feature live music at least once each quarter. On October 7, Generations will host an open house featuring DJs and video art. On October 15, the space will host a vinyl pop-up shop.

There’s no doubt Cairo’s departure left a vacuum, but Generations shows that doesn’t have to be a bad thing; maybe a little extra room is exactly what Capitol Hill needs to stoke its imagination.

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