Borderline reborn a year after tragic shooting

Lawrence Eady, Staff Writer

It is scarcely possible to prepare oneself to experience the violence, confusion, and grief that comes from enduring a mass shooting. Survivors of the Route 91 shooting in Vegas learned this in 2017, and the survivors of the Borderline shooting — some of whom were from Route 91 as well — learned the same thing one year later.

Through the devastation that each survivor and affected individual experienced, the “Borderline family,” as they are known by each other and others in the surrounding community, chose to grow closer and stronger, rather than give up and let the shooting destroy their relationships and spirit for what and who they love.

Bryan Hynes and Troy Hale, owners of Borderline (or BL), officially re-opened “BL Bar and Grill” at a new location in Agoura Hills on Friday, Jan. 24, while construction is being done to the original building in Thousand Oaks. 

The new location, titled “BL Dancehall and Saloon,” is what survivor Dylan McNey calls “a ray of hope for the future.”

“I see it as a new step into the healing process that we are all still going through,” said McNey about what the reopening means for the community. “This allows for the Borderline name to show it will never die and we are continuing to fight a good fight for our 12 angels and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Hynes and Hall had the 12 angels in mind when choosing how they wanted to decorate the new place. The owners brought over a few items from the original location such as a large American flag, neon signs, and a pool table. The most notable of these inclusions, though, are the bar stools.

The main bar at BL Dancehall and Saloon has 12 original stools lining its outer edge, one for each victim of the shooting. When talking about the thought process behind the set-up choices, Troy Hale said that they wanted “as much as we could bring over from the other place to make it feel like home.”

According to the Borderline website, BL Dancehall and Saloon possesses all of the features that the original BL Bar and Grill had, including the original drink and food menu known to locals as “The Best of Borderline,” a lit-up dance floor for late-night country music to be cranked over the loudspeakers, and a game room with pool tables waiting to be the cause of gambled money and beer.

The new location even flaunts a “huge” patio, according to the website. This luxury will come as a comfort to those who had to squeeze together on the small patio at the original location in order to catch a breath of fresh air, and fresh smoke. 

Everything about the new BL location feels exciting, but just because it took over a year to open did not mean that the community had nothing to do in the meantime.

“The Canyon Club,” saloon-esque bars in Agoura Hills and Santa Clarita that put on live music shows, welcomed the Borderline family with open arms when they came looking for a place to dance and be in each other’s company.

The Canyon Club locations have been hosting Borderline’s College nights on Wednesdays and Country nights on Thursdays since as early as January 2019, only two months after the shooting.

Currently, the new BL location will only be open on Fridays and Saturdays, so the Canyon Club will still get to host the community every week, giving people multiple locations to choose where to dance.

On Nov. 7, 2018, a man in dark attire and in possession of smoke grenades and a handgun killed 12 individuals at BL Bar and Grill. The shooter, a U.S. Marine combat veteran, opened fire in the bar at over 200 participants and staff that were present that night.

At the end of his spree, the shooter turned the gun on himself and took his own life.

The 12 that were killed included several college students, a Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt., a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and a U.S. Navy veteran. Many of these people considered Borderline their home, and they left behind others who still do.

The Borderline family and the community of Thousand Oaks is in the process of healing and will be so for years to come, but because of Hynes, Hale, and everyone else who still calls Borderline home, they will continue to line dance through it all.

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