The Starland Ballroom is a concert venue located in Sayreville, Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. Opening night was December 7, 2003 and featured a performance by Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth. The venue was formerly known as the Hunka Bunka Ballroom, which operated as a dance music club in the 1980s and 1990s, though throughout the 1990s it often hosted concerts, specifically punk and ska lineups. And even before that the building was known as the Jernee Mill Inn, a local bar with a banquet hall that sometimes had bands and was used for rehearsal by John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones and Richie Sambora's band. The building is believed to be the place where hometown stars Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora (lead singer and guitarist of Bon Jovi) met in the early 1980s.
In its first year of operation, over 150,000 tickets were sold to Starland events, enough to make the venue as one of the 10 largest concert nightclubs in the world, according to Pollstar magazine. In its second year of operation, Starland sold over 205,000 tickets, qualifying it as the fourth-best ticket-selling concert nightclub in the world, according to Pollstar magazine. Within five years, Starland sold close to three-quarters of a million tickets, while constantly ranking as one of the best-selling concert nightclubs in the United States and beyond. Celebrities and musicians alike have been spotted at Starland, including New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, Cameron Diaz, Howard Stern Show star Artie Lang, comedians Jim Florentine and Bob Levy, Hilary Duff, baseball star Mike Piazza, Peter Fonda and others.
On August 20, 2004, Coheed and Cambria filmed a concert at Starland Ballroom and released it as a DVD, titled Live at the Starland Ballroom. Bands such as Anthrax, Clutch and God Forbid, have also filmed DVDs at Starland, while bands like My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday and The Starting Line have filmed performances at the venue for broadcast on MTV, Fuse and elsewhere.
In January 2005, Starland Ballroom hosted a pair of concerts to raise money for victims of the December 26 tsunamis. My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail and dozens more performed over two nights, raising over $150,000 for UNICEF and the International Red Cross. In September 2005, Dashboard Confessional and Coheed and Cambria co-headlined an event at Starland to raise $80,000 for Direct Relief International's efforts to assist victims of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Also, the post-hardcore band Thursday, from nearby New Brunswick filmed most of the live footage for their DVD, Kill the House Lights, inside the Starland Ballroom.
On April 13, 2007, the building was purchased by AEG Live, one of the largest producers of live concert and sporting events in the world. AEG Live's New Jersey operations run out of the Starland facility, including operational and booking efforts related to the All Points West Music & Arts Festival, Toms River Fest, and performances at venues like The Count Basie Theatre, The MAC at Monmouth University, Pine Belt Arena, Jenks Club, iPlay America, The State Theatre and more.
In July 2008, a film titled The Perfect Age Of Rock And Roll, starring Peter Fonda, Lauren Holly, Jason Ritter, Taryn Manning, Billy Dee Williams and Ruby Dee, filmed its club scenes inside the venue.
The venue suffered significant damage in October 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy. On November 13, 2012 it was announced that all shows were being cancelled or moved to other venues, and that they anticipated not being able to open until Spring 2013. During this time the Starland Ballroom Facebook page mostly gave information about concerts at other affiliated venues in the area.
On June 4, 2013 it was announced that the Starland Ballroom would reopen in September 2013. This was accompanied by the relaunch of their website (which previously only showed an explanation of why they were closed) and a list of upcoming concerts scheduled to take place starting in September. On September 6, 2013, Starland Ballroom reopened with a performance by Stone Temple Pilots and Chester Bennington.