The Independent, located just outside downtown at the intersection of Gay Street and Opelika Road, beside Scooter Groove, is home to TKO and IndepenDance, two events that offer locals an opportunity to not only listen and enjoy good music, but also to actively participate in the event.
“I would describe TKO, in its most basic sense, as an indie dance party,” said Andy Belsterling, one of the creators of TKO.
Belsterling said TKO got started after he and some friends visited cities like Atlanta and Orlando on the weekends and partied at what he called “true dance clubs”.
“I would go to these dance parties and just have such a good time,” Belsterling said.
He explained that there wasn’t anything like it near downtown Auburn.
TKO stands for Technical Knockout, according to Belsterling, and is just a unique way of describing the mix of high-energy music and dance at these events.
“It’s dance music that you would hear if you went to a bigger city with real dance clubs rather than just like Top 40 music,” said Heath Truitt, owner of the bar and eatery.
TKO has been hosted at the Independent for more than a year and is held on the first Friday of every month.
When the group originally started, Belsterling said other venues in the area didn’t understand it.
Truitt added that at other places, the movement of the whole thing wasn’t allowed to develop into something bigger.
“The Independent is very focused on having new, original, relevant music,” Belsterling said, “and we just fit perfectly with what they wanted to do and what we wanted to do.”
IndepenDance is another event the venue is holding every Wednesday with the same idea in mind.
Truitt, who DJs along with Belsterling, said there is a lot of freedom with this genre of music and that those attending will hear anything from indie electro to music from the 70s and 80s, depending on the DJ.
“We feel like we have a little bit more leeway because people aren’t used to what we’re doing on Wednesday yet, so therefore, we’re not boxed in to one specific type of music,” Truitt said.
Different DJs, including those who produce their own music, music bloggers and creators of other events, are invited to the Independent to perform on various nights.
Truitt said this type of event brings out a lot of design- and art-oriented people, but that what they are promoting with these events is something anyone could enjoy.
“Nobody ever complains about not having a good time here,” Truitt said.
Missy Hazeldine, sophomore in apparel merchandising, said she enjoys attending these events because of the atmosphere and people at the Independent.
“Everyone that goes is really laid-back and down to earth,” Hazeldine said.
Hazeldine said she feels like she can walk in wearing whatever and just hang out and enjoy being there.
“The gathering in itself is just pleasing,” said Mike Leigh, senior in theatre.
Leigh described the music as magical and said the dancing is sometimes overwhelming.
“If you just come and if you just let yourself dance and not judge or be judged, that really is the key,” Leigh said.
TKO will be held twice in October, once on the first of the month and then again Oct. 30 for Halloween instead of Nov. 1.
Truitt and Belsterling both encourage everyone to come out and experience the atmosphere at the Independent at least once, if not for the music and dance social, then just for the atmosphere of it.