Music News

Tempe Residents Drum in Protest Outside Mirabella at ASU in Response to the Shady Park Ruling

Protesters drum and hold signs outside Mirabella at ASU on April 15, 2022.
Protesters drum and hold signs outside Mirabella at ASU on April 15, 2022. Jennifer Goldberg

The pounding noise filling the air in downtown Tempe this afternoon wasn't construction work.

Instead, the continuous drumming sound was a protest held at the corner of University Drive and Myrtle Avenue.

It was in response to Wednesday's news that Shady Park, a beloved Tempe eatery and music venue since 2014, had lost its court case against Mirabella at ASU, a senior community built across the street and opened in 2020. Mirabella residents had sued Shady Park claiming that the noise level and the concerts that were held late into the night were harmful to residents.

In Wednesday's ruling, Judge Brad Astrowsky imposed restrictions on the venue so stringent that Shady Park cannot follow them and reasonably operate as a venue.

"This ruling will force Shady Park to cease all live music operations immediately, as the restrictions mandated make it impossible for us to hold live music events," the venue said in a social media statement Wednesday night.

In response to the news, Tempe resident Anthony "Ant" Airdo circulated a flyer on social media urging people to show up outside Mirabella for a Friday afternoon "drum circle/protest."

Paul Dorman turned up to make some noise in support of Shady Park.

"I love Shady Park and I love the vibe it throws around the city of Tempe, and I just think it’s not right, the way the court case turned out," he says.

By 1:30 p.m., a small but loud group of people were drumming and holding signs like "Just Buy Earplugs" and "If You Don't Like It, Leave." A number of cars drove by and honked in apparent solidarity.

Airdo knows that a drum circle won't undo a court ruling.

But, he says, "This is to put a bit of pressure on the building as a whole, because if there’s a minority of people who want to get Shady Park shut down, and the majority of people embrace Tempe and aren’t trying to change those fundamental aspects of it, then I hope that those people in that building hear this protest, they say 'Hey, I like the music and I don’t want someone with a drum kit outside my house every day, so I'm going to tell my neighbors that we should let this go.'

"Because [Mirabella has] every power to drop the suit and they have every power to let this issue go and let Shady Park resume business as normal."

A young man who heard the drumming came down from his apartment, asked what was going on, and held a sign for a bit. A few Mirabella residents were filming from their high-rise homes.

Before this reporter was escorted from the lobby of Mirabella at ASU by Executive Director Tom Dorough, one Mirabella resident, Sheila Zieglowsky, said she thought the protest was funny and was expecting a larger turnout.

Her take on the controversy: "I think it’s all been blown out of proportion. All [Shady Park has] to do is lower the music, lower the sound."

But Airdo thinks that Mirabella at ASU should adapt to its surroundings, not the other way around.

"If they’re going to build a retirement high-rise here sure, but this community — Shady Park, the arts community, Mill Avenue — this was here first. And if [Mirabella residents] want to change their lives and they want to move here and be in the beating heart of a thriving downtown arts community, then they need to accept that change themselves and embrace the fact that they live here now," he says.

"I don’t understand how you can move here and then demand that it cater to your interests when isn’t the reason you moved here is because you like it here? Because you like what we have to offer in this community? I don’t understand that."
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Jennifer Goldberg is the culture editor and Best of Phoenix editor for Phoenix New Times.