Washington, D.C



Too many promoters spoil the club.

The multi-venue trend hit D.C. full-force with Avenue, a brand-new, four-level, 12,000-square-foot dance club. Housed in a historic building with 18-foot ceilings, original oil paintings and black and red carpets, the newbie spreads plenty of eye candy over its four floors. Each of Ave.’s levels has its own name – A1, A2, A3 and A4 – and its own party, functioning almost as an independent club. This month’s Stalkers took on the tall order of checking out EACH FLOOR, but did they make it to the top?

Stalker #1
I’d call Avenue a chic new club, but it’s not exactly in the best part of town, especially if you want to avoid the parking hassle and go pedestrian-style like myself. The usable sidewalks were limited, the streets dimly lit, and though there is a revitalization project in the area (this being part of it), there are still plenty of businesses and bars/clubs that are more than shady.

When I get to Avenue’s address, the tall, old, brick building camouflages with all the old buildings around it, and doesn’t give away a hint of the goodies that hide inside. Just through the door the openness was comforting and inviting. Every angle of the room was clearly visible from every other. It was nice to just stand and admire the view for a while. The vintage-y exposed brick walls in contrast with glass floor inlays of the dancefloor was a nice touch, too.

The sound was good in every room, and the lighting was adequate for dancing, although automated in design (think pre-programmed, beat-matched minimal disco lighting). There were also recessed and tactfully placed dim lighting fixtures throughout.

The owner clearly spent a lot of money on it, but the obvious lack of really talented DJs and the inconsistent music appeal makes for a confusing venue. I did like it, though, so I’ll keep my eye on what avenue Avenue goes down. I’ll “move in” if they offer house, breaks and trance!

Stalker #2
When I approached Avenue with my wife, the door staff was professional, courteous and accommodating. Inside we were greeted by a spacious, well-appointed space, with a large bar to one side and a staircase to the other. The bathrooms on this floor are single occupancy, so on a crowded night like this, as you can imagine, we spent quite some time either on a line, or scoping out facilities on other levels.

The two floors above the ground level had a similar design, and rumor has it that all the DJ booths were constructed inside what was once an elevator shaft prior to renovation. The DJ in me appreciates this, in that the equipment mounts are therefore rock-solid and completely isolated from the bumps, jumps and tumbles that often come from a club dancefloor.

The “dancing” bit is where things at Avenue got a little hazy. Floor to floor, we were subjected to a schizophrenic array of musical styles. While the focus of the club seems to be “upscale urban” with hip-hop the favored genre, the venue management has made no real attempt to bind the party promoters: Yes, there seems to be multiple promotion entities involved, each taking charge of one floor, meaning that the quality and selection will vary greatly from floor to floor with little to no rhyme or reason. This lends itself to a disjointed, and often unenjoyable evening that attempts to appease all, appealling to none. While you may hear ’70s disco on one floor, ’80s new wave on another, and contemporary “gangsta rap” on another, the venue doesn’t seem to support any of the typical dance genres, including mainstream house, NRG or even Eurodance (aka “international” for you veterans of the D.C. club scene).

Avenue is certainly a lovely, though sadly wasted club spot. They’ve succeeded only in being unconventionally conventional – a formula for failure in D.C. nightlife.

Stalker #3
Despite the large glowing blue sign reading “A Venue” hanging outside the club, my friend and I actually passed the club several times before noticing it. Then it was a bitch to park. And then from car to club we were approached for money more than once by local homeless. But after a short wait on a line outside the door, we were finally in Avenue, which immediately redeemed itself with beautiful tall ceilings, large dancefloors, long marble bars, candles and huge windows.

We ordered drinks on the second floor (A2) and hunted down the restrooms, which were nice and clean, but how dirty could they get in the club’s first two weeks? The venue actually still smelled of “new” – new paint, new carpet and probably some adhesives.

Early on the music was low, but turned up as the dance crowd became more involved in the floor. The sound system was plenty powerful to fill each of the three rooms. Late in the night we had a hard time talking over the music – just the way this NightStalker likes it! The sound was full, no rattling or bass-failure detected.

Later in the night when I was looking for a place to sit, I began to consider the floor a serious option. I was told that furniture was “on its way.” But, while I was not invited into the VIP room, I did sneak a peek before being asked who I was with, and caught a glimpse of all the seating, the leather and cushy kind. I guess it was hidden for the more important – or bigger wallet-ed – patrons.

It was rather strange to go from live jazz to ’80s to reggae in a single venue. Although I see trying to please a lot of people by offering diversity, the lure of a big club with multi-levels, at least to me, is to be able to move between the levels comfortably, enjoying the different types of music. I couldn’t do that. I stayed on the second level all night. I tried to venture into some of the other floors, but I didn’t feel comfortable with the crowd, or with the music. And the DJ spinning on the second floor was really second rate at best. The track selection was okay and consisted of many two-, three-, and four-year-old tracks which were harshly mixed between breakdowns, or near their ends.

And I never did find the alleged fourth floor.

Copyright 2005 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2005 TESTA Communications