South meets the underground.
Big city clubs always bask in the
limelight, but we wanted to see what North Carolina’s
capital city could do with a day in the Club Systems
sun. This month’s Stalkers scoped out the city’s
nightlife scene and uncovered a club with the potential cool
of underground scenes in much bigger cities.
Aries Lounge is part kitsch, part industrial, with a hipster
vibe that extends to a MySpace page complete with an about-me
list including: “I am run by a bunch of chicks,”
“my birth was a long, difficult struggle,” and
“I have Super Soakers.”
Featuring a variety of house, punk, and funk musical tastes
plus local artwork, the “sophistocated, yet understated”-themed
lounge even has more friends than us (c’mon send us
some love: myspace.com/clubworldawards). We begged the NightStalkers
to find out: is this Southern club actually as cool as it
claims? And is the Raleigh crowd ready for it?
I knew we had found Aries when I saw a large ram’s head
in silhouette painted on the side of the building in black
– very chic for the garage-type brick building.
When me and my friends went in, the line was quick, and the
man at the door was friendly enough. I noticed large curtains
right away and industrial-style decorations. I LOVED it! There
was a big fish tank next to the door with a few saltwater
fish. The couches were the same as that in my apartment: Ikea.
I did like the fact that they took the time to paint the ram’s
head on the sides, and I’m considering doing the same
to mine at home.
The club looks and seems huge, but it’s really intimate,
with painted floor murals and local artists’ pictures
on the walls.
I quickly made friends with many people there and they were
all very nice, especially considering the fact that most of
them seemed to know one another already. The club is apparently
a private venue that is open to the public for just a little
more money: three dollars for members, five dollars for non-members.
WOW! Who knew you could party for so cheap?
The sound was well-placed and clear, loudest on the dance
floor area. There was a pool table that was busy all night.
I liked that I could see most of the club if and yet there
were little tucked away corners where I could sit and hide
if I wanted.
The local resident DJs were really good the night we went.
They played some of the newest progressive house and tribal
stuff. The mixing was dead on and the equipment seemed modern.
I never would have guessed that Raleigh would hold such a
gem as the Aries Lounge.
We walked into the Aries Lounge with some regular members,
having been asked as guests to come out. The space was well
lit and had a garage feel – very upscale, but underground.
The staff was very courteous and I didn’t notice any
gorilla-type bouncers or security policing the place.
After asking about the almost Chicago-industrial art this
building seemed to be constructed around, I was told that
it used to be an old car garage and had been magically transformed.
The walls were a combination of exposed brick work and black-painted
brick. Local artists’ oil paintings and other artworks
were displayed (with for-sale tags). The Lounge became full,
but not crowded, and the little rooms and cubbies tucked here
and there offered opportunities to get away from the bustling
dancefloor and bar areas. Drapery was hung openly from towering
ceilings with exposed pipes and ventilation tubing.
Coming from a big city, I’m accustomed to long lines;
checking for VIP entrances and losing my company are commonplace
on my nights out. At Aries, the people were friendly; there
weren’t any long lines. Admittance was FREE –
before 11 there is no cover – unheard of where I come
from on a Saturday night!
If I could change one thing I would definitely have waiters,
as it was a bit hard to order through the people sitting and
talking at the bar. I also wondered where they put the artists
who performed there, if there was no VIP area. The kitchen?
A bathroom? An office?
The bathrooms were elaborately painted and although they were
a draw (just to see the art on the walls) there was only one
sink and a few toilets.
The club’s sound system was very good; loud, but no
distortion. I danced for a long time, but with the concrete
painted floors my feet soon became a bit tired.
I really liked the Aries Lounge and would recommend it to
anyone traveling to or around the Raleigh area. I’d
give it nine out of 10 (and I am a very picky, very knowledgeable
nightclub patron). Everyone acted like they were at a good
friend’s house party and had as much respect for the
place. The bar tab was practically nothing and the entrance
was free – beat that!