It’s the PopGurls’ club extravaganza! Wherein we bitch about everything you’re doing wrong in your clubs! And you rush to fix it!
The four of us spend quite a bit of time in clubs, some more than others. We have studied the ebb and flow of the clientele, and feel that we can offer valuable insight into what the hell it is you do wrong. We’d start our own, but we have more important things to do, you understand. Now, normally we would charge for such advice, but we’re feeling generous. So take copious notes and give us a call if you need help.
Michelle: Atmosphere is so key, we shouldn’t even have to mention it. But there you go, things that often seem obvious rarely are. Keep it simple, folks.
Amanda: Lately I’ve appreciated clubs that don’t try too hard. Minimalistic. It’s very important, if this is your thing, to not cross the line into stuffy and unwelcoming. If your staff is all model-beautiful and the tables are so nice I’m scared to set my drink down and the DJ frowns at me when I request “Bombastic Love,” all because you want to be trendy? That’s bad.
Melynee: It’s a fine line. You’ve got to make us feel comfortable, but not too comfortable – you want us dancing, not sleeping. We need to want to spend a lot of time – and money – there.
Amy: As a fan of dive bars, I’m not much for theme things. I like ’em dark, with places to hide. Although I have to say I love the gimmick for Remote Lounge. They just have to knock the prices down.
Michelle:I realize most clubs like to keep it dark. It assists you in surreptitiously watering down your drinks and prevents the blinding of all the drunk people at the bar. But if I can’t see my drink or the face of the scary man walking towards me, it’s too dark. Light is good! It’s okay! Embrace it! Electricity was invented for a reason! I’m not saying turn the lights up all the way, just, you know, half way. And if you want to keep some of that dark around for your less-than-comfortable-in-reality clientele, there’s always the dance floor. Darkness is justified on the dance floor and is as essential as alcohol to the getting-your-groove-on process. If people can’t see you, they can’t mock you! Right? Wrong.
Amanda: I’d like to also point out, however, that strobe lights are bad. While they do allow for some fancy, early-80s robot moves, they hurt. my. eyes. And sort of make me dizzy when I’ve had too much to drink. Ditto on spotlights. Disco balls (technically part of the ambiance) make lovely patterns on the walls and floors, but should be used sparingly. I beg you.
Melynee: Personally, I like an occasional colored light or two – they can make your skin and clothes turn new and interesting colors. But the key word here is occasional. At some point, seeing the guy we’re dancing with without the orange facial tint might be helpful. Note: The same goes for blacklights. Too many do scary things to one’s teeth.
Amy: Back to the dark thing again. If it’s just a place to hang, then there should be enough light to make it to the bar and back. If it’s a place to dance, then a little mood lighting goes a long way.
Michelle: We’re looking for courteous people here, folks. Bartenders that aren’t going to roll their eyes at you when you request a fruity drink or lie to you and tell you the blender’s broken when all you really want is a motherfucking daiquiri.
Amanda: Know what I hate? The girls in the tiny outfits who staff the beer troughs at places like Jillian’s. They stand there, with a vacant stare when other women walk by, and then dance all sexy when boys come around. What. They think I don’t want to buy a beer? Well. Right. I don’t, as a rule, drink beer. But if a hot girl smiled and shimmied at me, I might consider it.
Melynee: I’d just like the staff to listen. When someone asks me what kind of gin I want in my G&T and I reply “Whatever costs the least,” that’s what I mean. Please don’t try to sell me on the merits of Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray. I know what I like, and it’s called Cheap.
Amy: I don’t like chatty people. Chatty people are too busy chatting and ignoring everyone else. Friendly, eye contact, and direct – words to live by.
Michelle: House seems to be really popular at the moment, at least here in Seattle. That and electronica. Now, I ask you, owners of seedy bars nationwide, look out into the crowd. If you have a dance floor, head there. Put on something in the realm of electronica. Make a note of how many people are out there shaking their groove thing. Now, nicely ask your DJ to put on something 80’s or some hip hop. Make another note of how many people are either out there inappropriately grinding or bouncing along at the bar. Do the math. There should be a huge difference. Learn from this. Grow.
Amanda: Yes. Yes. And HELL yes. Michelle and I observed that, if you play J-Lo and Ja Rule, the dancers will come. They will flock like bees to honey and they will sing along in their best “I’m a drunken street bum” Ja Rule voice and they will get it on with whatever warm body is near. If you play Britney, girls everywhere will toss their hair and grind their hips and touch their breasts. If you play *NSYNC, people will punch and bounce. New Order is about as far into electronica as you can go with most crowds. And the people who want electronica will seek out clubs that specialize in it. Tossing some trance in between Mary J. and Missy will not. Win. You. Fans. Although it is a handy time to get some water.
Melynee: Yep. Hip hop is key, yo. Although, it must be pointed out that if you happen to be a European club owner (or, at least, an Italian one, which would be the ones within my realm of experience), this rule does not hold. Those wacky Italians are all about the techno. *shudder*
Amy: Hip hop is always good. Just please, for the love of God, do not play each freaking song six times. I like Mary J’s “Family Affair,” but not six times in one night. Alterna-80s and 90s is a safe bet, too. Violent Femmes, The Cure… oh, and if you want to be sorta edgy, throw in some Stone Roses and Sugarcubes. That’ll get the hipper-than-thou wallflowers on the dance floor. (Wonderstuff, Charlatans UK and Inspiral Carpets optional.)
Michelle: Stools that don’t bruise our asses would be appreciated. Thanks. Places to set one’s drink while on the dance floor would also be nice. A free coat check, so we don’t have to leave our coats in a pile and subsequently have Corona poured all over them by drunken evil people, would also be appreciated. And oh! Mirrors on the dance floor! People love to watch themselves dance. We don’t understand why, but they do. The drunk frat boys are especially fond of this device, to take it from them would be a crime and would cut down on our amusement greatly.
Amanda: I’ll be the first to admit that I love the Saturday Night Fever dance floors you find at those cheesy chain clubs like Polly Ester’s. I’m all for a good gimmick, especially if I’m in a mood to dance to cheesy songs with words as familiar as the back of my hand. But. This is only sometimes. Mostly I want a place with enough space to move, and also to get out of the way if someone is getting fresh. I prefer to dance with my back to a wall, or pillar, to reduce the amount of sides people can grind up on me. Hardwood floors are a dream, cause they have give, and that comes in handy when you’re wearing four-inch heels.
Melynee: The only thing I’d like to add here is that in the realm of human décor, aka go-go dancers, I’m an equal opportunity gal. Give me scantily-clad, hip-grindy, prime specimens of either sex, and I’m a happy gurl.
Amy: Enough places to sit and hide. Yup, that’s good. Sitting and hiding. And watching, because watching is important. Especially when it’s being done all stealthy.