Where nightclubs are historical.
How many nightclubs can claim that they remember
the Alamo? Believe it or not, the Bonham Exchange does. Located
about a block from the Alamo and built in 1891, the building
that houses Bonham Exchange has been described as nothing
less than magnificent. Since its creation, it has housed a
number of establishments, including a German athletic club
and during WWII, the USO. In 1981 it became the Bonham Exchange.
belies what kind of music this club really plays. Donít expect
country and western at this bar. Instead, thereís techno on
three levels of dance floors. This place exudes grandeur and
style. There is an unimaginable amount of room inside and
if youíre lucky, the top floor will be opened to accept the
overflow. The Bonham is part of San Antonioís history: a 111-year
old building that has been in business as a nightclub for
over 20 years. It has outlasted many neighboring clubs; generation
after generation has passed through their doors. We sent the
NightStalkers way down South to find out if this place has
stood the test of time.
So I show up around midnight. I begin to think, ďWhat if they
had a dance club and nobody came?Ē It was pretty empty and
didnít pick up until around two in the morning. Itís definitely
a unique club. Where else are you going to find a club in
a historical building with multiple levels and bar areas that
is big enough to hold like thousands of people? Even more,
a club that holds thousands and is still comfortable? Even
though there are so many people romping around, the bartenders
and bouncers were still cool. I liked the layout of the club.
The main bar, which is called the Alamo Bar, was really the
heart of the whole place. I think this was my favorite room
in the whole club. It had a good vibe, and the people-watching
was prime. Overall, it was a hot place to cruise and be cruised.
The atmosphere was fantastic at one point, but I canít remember
what time that was Ė too busy rating the eye candy. The music
was different depending on what room you were in, but I grooving
pretty consistently throughout the night. And for added entertainment,
I watched the go-go dancers. I think Bonham Exchange was worth
the trip, and I may be returning sooner than later.
I just want to get this out of the way before I begin: I think
the Bonham is a great place for the boys, but for us girls
there really isnít anything going on. Forget about going to
pick up, ladies, because this is definitely a boys club and
weíre here strictly to dance and have fun. Leave the hook-up
mindset at home.
honest and say that I was a little unsure about going to a
club thatís clientele are mostly gay men, but the atmosphere
was so comfortable and friendly. I was surprised that they
were as inviting as they were, both the crowd and the people
that worked there. My one major complaint with the people
is the sweat factor. Is there any way to fix that? I suppose
thatís a problem in a lot of clubs, but it still tainted my
night. So Iíd say it was a positive experience. I wouldnít
call it my home away from home, but I would call it a good
night. The music had the crowd bouncing, the atmosphere was
right, and the drinks were good too. What more could I ask
It was a clear San Antonio night, a small group of friends
and I had just walked by the Alamo, completely hyped up for
what was just down the street, The Bonham Exchange. We had
hopes of finding the best place to let loose and have a great
time. We could hear the techno beats pumping from out the
door. Fortunately the line was short, because our blood was
starting to boil. After passing through the door our eyes
widened by the spectacular setting of this old building. We
were able to get a clear look at everything, the huge dance
floor, a huge bar large, and two more floors to go. We doubt
it would be as breath taking had there actually been anyone
else there. We showed up too early; now we appear too anxious.
The inability to draw in a substantial crowd on a Saturday
night seemed even more spectacular than the setting. Had they
spent a little more money promoting the club, rather than
making it look pretty, I might not have regretted paying the
cover charge as much as I do.
As the techno
beats continued to pump, we made our way past the dance floor,
and began to tour the building. We came across a game room,
where there were people actually playing arcades and darts
and such. The title of dance club was immediately lost from
my vocabulary, for I had just stepped into the twilight zone.
Were the regulars at this club getting so bored that they
decided to demand some form of entertainment from the owner?
Were the owners so desperate to be innovative that they actually
listened to them? Caged go-go dancers and arcade games in
the same establishment? No thatís just unnatural. We didnít
want to go any further, but like a train wreck, we could not
help but look. We continued throughout the building, the design
and style was amazing, and the crowd, which grew through time.
After an hour and a half of torture we decided to just head
home. When we left the club we saw a long line that stretched
much further than when we first arrived. I ran into someone
I knew on his way to the club, he told us that things didnít
really pick up until now. I didnít tell him that we had already
found out that the only thing that could pick this club up
would be a 50-ton crane.