But can it cut the mustard?
Hartford, Conn. is “the insurance capital of the world” and not generally known for its booming nightlife. Once upon a time in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, people flocked to the city’s many clubs and after-hours venues to hear dance music. But sudden police raids and subsequent club closings resulted in a decline of the Hartford scene.
In 2004, Room 960 opened in the old G. Fox building. It’s an intimate space capable of holding 400 patrons, decked out in modern chic style with white couches, white curtains, and a marble floor and bar. Quickly designated home of the beautiful and elite, numerous awards followed and the club began booking the biggest DJs in the world.
This October saw the premier of Dirty Fridays – a new night for a party that has acted as Hartford’s house music center for the last two years. The event is hosted by DJ Kered, a Connecticut veteran who typically plays electro house mixed with soulful, vocal flavors.
We walked in just before 11:00 pm to avoid paying a cover. The place was already percolating with long-legged ladies and handsome gentlemen, all predictably dressed to the nines. DJ Manny Rivera warmed up the place with deep house. We made our way to the bar for a cocktail and were coldly greeted by a surly female bartender. Would it hurt the bar staff to service this upscale crowd (unafraid to tip well, by the way) with a warm greeting? Maybe even a smile? We got our drinks and found our way to one of the plush white couches that wasn’t reserved for table service. As we waited for Kered to take the decks, the always hospitable owner came over to thank us for coming and we entertained ourselves with some serious people watching and eye candy, courtesy of the platform go-go dancers.
As Kered took the decks, the room reached a nice balance of full, but not too crowded. This is why I prefer the local DJ parties. While it’s great to see Deep Dish, Oscar G, Gabriel & Dresden and the like in these cozy surroundings, the place gets too packed to really enjoy it. But the music took hold and so did the dancing.
Rumor has it a sound system upgrade is in the works and they desperately need it – the sound is inconsistent throughout the room. But you hardly notice since the vibe is overflowing with sophisticated sexiness. Despite its minor flaws in service and sound, Room 960 is still the place to be in Hartford.
The entrance to 960 Main St, Hartford is a bit odd. Through a set of revolving doors, you enter into what was once one of the largest shopping malls in the city. But don’t let the mall-like facade defer you. Walking past the armature art exhibits, it’s obvious that this space is being filled with some of the trendiest restaurants and lounges in the area.
Room 960 is known for having some of the best parties in the state, with world-class DJs and heavy promotion provided by boramusic.com. However, they are also know for inconsistent cover charges and lackluster parties due to poor promotion and being overshadowed by big name DJs. Tonight, the premier of Dirty Fridays was entirely different.
The general environment of the club is trendy and inviting. The lighting is decent - just enough for the room without being overpowering. The sound system is barely enough for a lounge and doesn’t cut the mustard for a club that brings in big-name DJs. 960’s saving grace is that it is so intimate. If you have been there more than once, you are apt to run into many of the same faces (including the old guy who is there every single week - I refer to him as “my hero”). The bartenders, while attractive, can be curt and are not heavy-handed with their pours. But the door staff is excellent. Rather than stamping your hand or using a bracelet (which makes me feel like I am at a local rock concert), the staff allows clubbers to come and go if they need to step out for a quick smoke or other devious activity.
All in all, 960 have stumbled on a successful formula for great parties. The vibe and family-like environment remind me of after-hours parties in NYC – you can walk in by yourself and still manage to find a great group of people to hang out with, and have a great time.