By Serena Scholle and Sergio Mercado
Nov. 7 will forever be a day of remembrance for the 12 victims that tragically lost their lives in the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting. For many years, the country-western bar served as a popular college hangout and established a local community for people who enjoy country music and line dancing.
That fateful night three years ago, in 2018, left a hole in many hearts in the communities of both Ventura County and country music. In the wake of the tragedy, a nonprofit foundation was created called Borderline Strong that hosted a benefit concert to honor the victims and celebrate the community they belonged to.
Many prominent performers from the country genre have made appearances in past Borderline Strong concerts out of respect for the individuals who were lost, their loved ones, and the community they left behind. This organization remains active and serves as a symbol of the resilience the community developed by coming together to support the families of the victims, the survivors and others impacted by the event.
“The community itself has been solid. The thing about Borderline itself is that it was such a strong base of friends, relatives and people that went into the bar. It’s been there 25 years in Thousand Oaks…and so many people have been tied to it for so long,” said Brian Hynes, owner of Borderline Grill & Bar,
Since its dedication in 2019, the Healing Garden memorial in Thousand Oaks also continues to be a place of comfort to peacefully remember and pay respect to the victims. For some time, the Canyon Club in Agoura held Borderline’s College Night on the same Wednesday night schedule to help keep the spirit of the prior activity alive.
Statues in remembrance of the victims have also been erected at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. The 12 ceramic memorials stand between 8 to 12 feet tall and each carry the name of a life lost three years ago. The sculptures were the project of Ali Alinejad, a Thousand Oaks ceramic artist.
“He’s (Alunejad’s) been working and fighting for the okay to put those names in front of the Civic Arts Plaza,” Hynes said. “All that preparation that goes into something like that to display them is the things that shine through in my mind.”
Together the community has gathered the strength to rebuild, and the Borderline bar reopened Jan. 24, 2020 at a new location in Agoura under the new name BL Dancehall & Saloon. The Borderline Strong website proudly states that the intent is for the community to “continue making memories.”
The Borderline Strong Foundation will be hosting a “Party in the Park” on Nov. 6 at Conejo Creek North Park. Proceeds will benefit the Borderline Strong Foundation, and it will feature live music, line dancing, and food trucks. More information can be found on the BL Saloon Instagram page, @BLSaloon.
The Conejo Valley Interfaith Association will also host a “Day of Remembrance” at 1 p.m. at the Healing Garden. This program is in collaboration with the city of Thousand Oaks, the Borderline Strong Foundation and the nonprofit Give an Hour. CI will also be hosting a Borderline Remembrance and Bench Dedication on Dec. 2 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ralph Bliss Courtyard.
As college students and members of the local country music scene continue to participate in these events and visit the new Borderline location, the resilience of the community will continue to honor those lost by revitalizing the joy they all once shared.