Stowed above the foyer of Karangahape Road’s iconic St Kevin’s Arcade, The Grow Room sits snug and unobserved to the waves of pedestrians navigating the trademark eclectic mix of shops below. When day passes to night, Whammy and Wine Cellar open their respective doors, but an increasing number of folks are seen navigating their way upstairs - a phenomena unseen until about May last year.
In May, you see, The Grow Room held its first night. Several rappers stood in a circle, cyphering and vibing off each other while friends looked on.
Since that night, the space has evolved into something entirely unprecedented. Every Sunday morning, you’ll find a number of people on its floor, flipping between states of movement, dance, and stillness in guided meditation. It’s hosted ecstatic drunk foreigners who’ve been looking for what they were told was an ‘exclusive club’ by a fed-up bouncer. It’s a record label, a musical catalyst for innumerable musicians that glide through its doors, and even those who’ve never touched an instrument before. The Grow Room floats on a vibe of inclusivity, positivity, and encouragement. It’s home to every subculture in Auckland, from “hard-out punk” one night, to hip hop the next.
Eight people pay the rent, but you’d be hard pressed to identify the ones who do amongst everybody else, warmly welcomed and perched on the worn-in sofas any minute of the day. Everybody belongs in The Grow Room. Seriously, it’s a feeling you’ll find difficult to evade if you ever wander through its doors.
We spent about an hour trying to pin down its core offering, exactly what The Grow Room is, for some stab at a definition. Christened with its name by the boys behind Badcrop, there’s absolutely a running Mary Jane joke, but more than that are the connotations of personal development.
The community will keep watering its plant, and there’s already word of hustle to bring its flowers to other corners of Auckland.