After almost a decade of working at the Vera Project as a volunteer, a sound engineer, a show manager, and most recently the program director, 26-year-old Melissa Quayle is leaving the all-ages venue to search out bigger opportunities in New York City.
In addition to being a longtime familiar face at Vera, Quayle has also worked at Neumo's, the War Room, Trinity, El Corazón, and a handful of other Seattle music institutions, and she's a member of the Tina Turners, Seattle's premier double Dutch jump-roping team.
"I've had a lot of jobs," says the self-proclaimed workaholic. "I'm glad I'm taking a break. This is the first time I've been unemployed in six years!"
Before heading off to the East Coast, Quayle has scheduled some time with friends by taking a short "tour" of sorts down the West Coast. After that, she's going to really test her workaholic nature by spending one month in Jamaica by herself.
"I've never been there, but I wanted to go someplace tropical. I've rented a house on the beach. I knew I needed a break before moving and settling in New York; I need to cleanse. I'm pretty sure that's where a little bit of freaking out will happen."
After that, it's off to New York, where she doesn't have any permanent job plans (yet), but she does have a few goals, both long and short term. "I need to expand and figure out what my options are outside Seattle. I need to go explore elsewhere. I really like promoting and developing events, but I also want to get more involved in hiphop and artist management."
As for her long-term goal, she also has a young pet project that she's focusing on. "I have a friend who lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and we want to do a cultural exchange through hiphop. Hiphop is becoming a large part of their culture, while they explore what it means for them to be African.
"I think there's a lot of funding out there, not only from grants but hopefully the music industry and nonprofit industry too. It would be a learning opportunity for a lot of people. That's the ultimate goal; that's really the motivation for moving."
Last weekend she celebrated her all-ages departure with a show at Vera (all the volunteers made cute little buttons with a cartoon Quayle on them to hand out to the crowd in her honor), and this week she's saying goodbye for good with a party at the Cha Cha featuring DJ Nolan Ryan and (if we're lucky) one last guerrilla performance by the Tina Turners with Quayle.
"I love Seattle," she says. "But I also love New York. I go there several times a year, and a lot of my favorite people live there. Vera has been an amazing place to be around, but I want to see what else is out there."
Melissa Quayle's going-away party is Tues Jan 29 at the Cha Cha.