Bonham Exchange- San Antonio, Tx

 

 

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.

The name 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.

Nightstalker #1
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.

Nightstalker #2
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.

Iíll be 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 for?

Nightstalker #3
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.

     
Copyright 2002 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2002 TESTA Communications