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?
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,
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!
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.
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 –
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.