Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide an ethnographic account of a folk music venue from the perspective of a participant observer. Design/methodology/approach: The research is based on a classic thick description, describing the central participants in a performance and the operation of spacing and timing processes, thus significantly creating private ownership of a public space. Findings: There are collective processes of spacing and timing that are informal but normative framing what superficially appears to constitute random or unstructured activities. The musical knowledge and performance competence drive these processes rather than externally visible considerations of authenticity. Research limitations/implications: This paper is a single-venue descriptive research. Originality/value: This paper adds to the relatively few small-scale ethnographies of urban music venues.