by Brett Hamil
Corina Luckenbach stacks the latest haul of tampons atop a folding table at the near end of the expansive wooden dance floor in South Park Hall, the renovated event space she opened last year with her partner, Heidi Herr. Last week Luckenbach pledged to collect one million tampons for homeless youth, and she just surpassed 14,000. She’s got a long way to go to meet her goal, an intentionally ambitious benchmark she describes as a regular person’s version of Pearl Jam’s recent $1 million pledge toward ending homelessness.
“Tampons are expensive, and it’s a health issue,” she says, “People have to choose between eating and taking care of their monthly needs.”
The tampon drive was sparked by a musical benefit for the homeless held at South Park Hall last week featuring Push4Luv and other artists. The space will continue to serve as a repository for donated hygiene products—socks and other necessities are also welcome—on their way by the carload to YouthCare. Luckenbach’s and Herr’s cafe in West Seattle, Admiral Bird, serves as a drop-off point.
“I’m in this unique position—I have a storefront where people can mail things and drop things off, so I can collect them really easily,” she says, “If you give people a chance to help and a need they’ll be like, ‘Yes.’”
Beyond the tampon drive, Luckenbach and Herr are just getting started with South Park Hall. Before they moved in it housed four tons of garbage, along with 14 junked cars and a thicket of overgrown brambles in the parking lot out back. She and her friends pitched in to renovate the facility and strip away its drab, “office-y” trappings to reveal the vintage 1926 dance hall underneath.
The large second-floor space now features exposed timber beams and windows overlooking the heart of South Park’s tiny commercial district. An assemblage of green chairs faces a small stage, and a pair of brown leather sectional couches flanks the room. In one corner there’s a bar and in the opposite corner, there’s a kitchen with a service window. The overall vibe is shabby chic simplicity; it’s the type of place where your chill friends would throw their wedding reception or album release party.
Luckenbach and Herr have already got an array of upcoming events booked: a screening of Roadhouse narrated by David Schmader next month, a jazz festival in April, some concerts and wedding receptions and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed kid’s birthday party next week. As they plot the venue’s place in the future of this rapidly changing neighborhood, Luckenbach will continue the mission to meet her lofty but practical goal of collecting one million tampons.
“Every day I’m counting them and keeping an Excel sheet,” she says, “It might take a couple years—but I dunno, maybe it’ll just take a couple months!”
Featured image by Melissa Fenno