Friday, January 30, 2009

80's Night Thursdays at The Groove

I think this night is going to be a success. Last night was the first 80's Night at The Groove, a new Thursday night event. And despite the rain and despite half the town being over at the Amway Arena to see Lebron James play the Magic, there was a decent 150-person crowd at The Groove. And the music was great! At the helm was DJ Doc who used to be one of the DJ's over at 8TRAX. And what he played was very much 8TRAX. There was no 70's Disco but the music covered the 80's and even a bit into the 90's. Mix 105.3 is involved in the promotion of the night and they were out giving away t-shirts and other prizes.

Some changes to what was previously reported in the January flyer for CityWalk. The flyer stated that the night begins at 7pm and is completely free. That is not the case. Reality, as shown in the newspaper ad above (click on it), is that it begins at 9pm and is free up until 10pm at which time entry costs $7. Of course if you have a CityWalk AP, it's free anytime.

80's Night at the Groove......every's FUN!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Cruise With More Clubs

OK, I promise no more cruises for awhile! But I did have the opportunity to take another one these past few days and so I have to give you a Club Report. This voyage was on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, one of RCI's super large Voyager-class ships holding 3000 people. And it was completely full. Ships of this class have multiple venues to hang out; the Ixtapa Lounge had a show band playing 1940's era Tanz musik, the Schooner Bar had a piano man playing and singing requests ah la Jellyrolls andPat O'Brians and there was karaoke up in the Viking Crown Lounge. Boleros was home to a latin music band which was packed. But "our" kind of music had its home in The Dungeon, a gothic-styled two story dance club featuring DJ Anthony. And while this space is normally the dance club on Voyager-class ships, it was only being used as the teen disco during this cruise. The photo above shows the entryway into the club.

I show the pool above because on the second night of the cruise Royal Caribbean's "Club 20" was held here at the Solarium. It was advertised as a South Beach kind of party held poolside and wow, what a party it was. When DJ Anthony finished his spinning at the teen club, he came over here and at 12:30am this morning the party got started! The first 45 minutes was pure techno with one Dance hit after another. People were dancing all over the far side of what is pictured above. White curtains blocked off the area beyond the balcony reminisent of the Delano Hotel in SOBE. After the near-hour of Dance, the switch was made to Hip Hop and the number dancing quickly doubled so that there were people dancing all over the place. By 2am girls were dancing on the ledge around the pool and some had taken their shoes off and were actually standing in shallow parts of the pool itself. A few techno songs were thrown in from time-to-time; the DJ knew what he was doing and Club 20 stayed packed. The name Club 20 comes from RCI's 20th ship Freedom of the Seas which is where the idea originated. The roving Club 20 is only found on their Freedom-class and Voyager-class ships.

One final note. Royal Caribbean has a music video television channel called xyTV. And in the morning they play Dance music. It was great waking up to Cascada, Angel City, Dido, DHT and so on! Unfortunately the rest of the day it's Rock, Top 40 and even some Country. :(

Monday, January 19, 2009

Club Report: House of Blues Hospitality Night

Big thanks to Thommy who has been club hopping all over Orlando since he arrived here from Wisconsin last week! Sunday night was Service Industry Night at House of Blues and this is a night known for its techno music. He reports: "On Sunday HOB was packed wall to wall with people. I could barely move on the dance floor. The music was house early on, then they brought out the big dj at like 12 or 12:30(too drunk to remember) and he played a combination of house and hip hop, but it worked really well because it was all up tempo and he was mixing on the spot, so he was really just sampling songs. You never really heard a verse, just the chorus and then it was on to the next song."
The "big DJ" he refers to is probably DJ Sandy. One of these coming weeks I need to take a Monday off from work and head out to HOB for SIN. A reminder to all that any service industry ID or paystub gets you in. They are not picky and it does not need to be related to the tourist industry.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Club Reports: Downtown

Your moderator returned to downtown Orlando last night for the first time in a few months for this previously scheduled night of club hopping to see what is currently going on down there and also to check out the several new clubs brought to my attention.

The festivities began at Mako's. This was not a planned stop since the music is 100% hip hop but a lovely young lady in a tartan microskirt and tall black boots would not hear of my protests and dragged me in for free lemondrop shots. And I got to watch another young lady who was hoisted upside down make a Shark Bowl drink. So I conceed Mako's is an entertaining stop.

Next came Independent Bar. The early stop was only to get the free armband to avoid the cover charge later for their Old Wave night. There was time for a drink though and they do make them strong here. More on I-Bar later.

Tabu did not warrant a stop despite a free pass. Saturday is pure hip hop and the music could be heard from the street. A side trip did bring me to Voyage, a new entry that supposedly plays House music. Unfortunatly it was a Saturday hip hop night here too and they wouldn't let me in for a tour without paying. I only saw about 10 people inside though. Not sure what happened to the House music so followup will be necessary here. Also stopped at a club called 23 which is upstairs at 23 W. Church Street. It was early here too and the music was not cranked up yet but the doorman did confirm that this was a House venue all the time. The wood booths and bar inside are beautiful but this seems to be more of a drinking establishment rather than a dance club; it would be a nice place to bring a date. There appeared to be a small dance floor.

On the way over to 23 the beautiful to my ears sound of Dance music poured out of the doorway of Vixen. Another one of those small and narrow venues, this too is geared for drinking and not dancing. There is a small DJ booth in the front and a small dance area just inside the door. There were several people dancing and the doorman said that people just dance whereever they're standing. He confirmed that DJ Jimmy Joslin does indeed spin there on Thursday nights. That could be interesting.....this place does play Mannequins style music.

Spent at least a couple hours in Antigua, definitely one of the most popular venues downtown. Drinks were 2 for 1 for guys, free for the ladies, so this is the place to get tanked up. The dance floor was absolutely mobbed; a lot of oldies 8TRAX style being played along with current Top 40 and just a tolerable amount of hip hop. It was hard to move and you pretty much had to dance in place. Good mix of ages too. Did you know it's difficult to text coherently if you're intoxicated and dancing?

Finally it was time to head back to I-Bar, just north of Tabu on Orange Avenue. This place caters to the goths of Orlando which makes the scene quite interesting to take in. They play Old Wave on Saturday nights, most of the songs with the original 80's videos. More strong drinks served and they stay open late to 3am. Remember to wear black if you'e coming here; pink hair extensions are optional.

Did not make it back to Bliss and I forgot to put SuiteB on my list. Senso had a long line so did not go there either but like its predecessor Zinc Bar, this is a House club too. A big concern for downtown Orlando is the 100% price increase in parking. The city lots which were $5 before are now $6 if you park before 10pm and then $10 after 10pm. I did see a number of private lots around the downtown still sporting $5 signs. But $10 to park could put some clubs out of business!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Things Looking Brighter at Atlantic Dance?

Big thanks to correspondent Thommy who was out at Atlantic Dance Hall last night. He says there was 100-150 people there on Friday night and the music was a good mix of older to new Top 40. What is interesting is that the door host told him that this was the slowest night of the week! Apparently earlier in the week, he was told, the place was wall-to-wall people!!

We've learned more about the connection to the Swan and Dolphin hotels. The club is contracted to the hotels at least through 2014 along with Jellyrolls and ESPN Club. I'm not clear whether that means the hotels operate the venues or if Disney operates them for the hotels, but there is a connection.

I'll be in touch with their Catering & Events department to find out what it would cost to rent the place for our Mannequins/8TRAX Reunion plus I have another call in to Disney about renting Motion back on PI. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Another Weekend, Another Cruise

Short cruises are always a viable option for those wanting to party. This weekend I got to experience Celebrity Century's quick cruise to Nassau. On the first night they set up a special viewing of the National Championship Game in one of the lounges to satisfy the large contingent of Gator fans on board. GO GATORS!! Afterwards the Hemisphere Disco was packed, as it was the 2nd night too. The DJ was playing requests both nights so I made sure I got my share of techno included. The second night the cast of the production show Liverpool Knights joined the fun as well as shown in the photos. Clubbing on cruise ships can be a mixed bag. Many ships have theme nights which makes it easier to predict what is going to be played; on some cruises it's all Request music which can lead to the DJ trying to please everyone and not pleasing anyone. DJ Scott managed to thread the needle pretty well. Free liquor samples in the Duty Free shop was a nice touch as well!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Changes at CityWalk

I thought perhaps this was a temporary thing over the holidays but apparently it isn't. There is now a $3 charge to park in the garages before 10pm. Universal and CityWalk AP holders can show their pass to get in free though and it reverts to free for everyone at 10pm.

Universal is advertising a new 80's Night which will take place every Thursday night beginning January 29th in the Groove. Admission will be FREE. And the great news is that I've confirmed that DJ Doc from 8TRAX will be leading this weekly event!! The ad in the monthly CityWalk flyer for January says he will be spinning Dance, New Wave, Hair Bands and more! This is a great addition for CityWalk and we need to help make this a success. Ladies, get out your skinny jeans, Reebok Freestyle Hightops and slouch socks and get ready for some Madonna, Go Go's, Tevo and other post-disco dance songs! Meanwhile, DJ AJ will be spinning his mix of Top 40 and mashups on both Friday and Saturday nights now! This means that DJ Flip no longer needs to be tolerated on one of the weekend nights.

Speaking of DJ Doc, besides his new 80's night at the Groove, he will also be spinning between band sets (and after the band finishes) at RCC on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Not sure what he will be playing but in the past the music is the same as you hear at the Groove. More good news: there is a new band playing at RCC. Finally! This one is pretty good and the dance floor has been staying full the last two times I've been in. Only sad news is that the contract with DJ Baby Anne for her Tuesday night techno sessions has ended. Hopefully they'll bring her back later.

This club continues to stay packed on Friday and Saturday nights led by resident DJ Leony. Besides the wide array of Latin music played, he's not afraid to throw in a set of Dance/Techno songs from time-to-time which is also quite popular with the crowd. In case you're not aware, DJ Leony has a 1-hour techno/dance mix show on BPM on Sirius/XM Radio every Friday and Saturday nights. Give LQ a try!

Club Report: Atlantic Dance Hall

OMG, what a beautiful facility! This place is an art deco extravaganza done first class as only Disney can do it. The DJ plays requests and he's right there in the front by the bar. All songs come with the Music Video being played in large scale up on the back wall. The only thing missing was people. There was only about 40-50 patrons in the place which is just too few for such a large dance floor. It was a great surprise running into so many PI people in one place though, many of which I had not seen since the final night in September! This place must have been incredible when it was sold out on New Year's Eve.

So why does AD stay so empty? Why isn't it advertised? I did some digging on this and sources tell me that Disney doesn't care whether there are customers or not. I'm told they have a contract with the Dolphin and Swan hotels to operate a night club there. So they do it. But apparently the contract doesn't give them incentives to make larger profits. That doesn't make any sense to me but it is true that you rarely hear about this place. I've got to check further into this. Update: A reliable source tells me that Disney doesn't want guests staying at the expensive Boardwalk Resort to have to put up with a lot of noise on a regular basis and thus they don't push AD much. To get to it you pretty much have to walk through the hotel's entry portal and then around one of the hotel's wings. They don't want that 2am rowdiness out there.

The music is very much like Motion although less hip hop and instead more "oldies". Since much of the music is request-based, it can be whatever you want it to be although I don't know how many songs and videos they have loaded in their computer. So a big Thumbs-Up for Atlantic Dance. If only they could get some people out there!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve at Pleasure Island

Had planned to spend New Year's Eve at Atlantic Dance Hall. Unfortunately, tickets sold out early and I couldn't even get near the place as Disney Security directed those without tickets to the already full overflow lot. That left few last-minute choices so I headed over to Pleasure Island to see what was happening there. Surely the rumors were true that they'd reopen up at least one venue to handle the masses. Not!

PI was indeed packed last night for New Year's Eve but basically there was little going on. The large majority of people were merely flowing in either direction between Marketplace and West Side. They had a magician working in front of AC. The two bars had fairly long lines. Teens stood in groups in front of PI Live listening to the music and watching the videos.

But entrance signs made it clear that the locations of midnight fireworks did not include DTD. The clubs were shut just as they have been since September 28th. A peek in the windows of Motion showed a normal looking venue that could reopen with a DJ tomorrow. But the darkened hulks of Mannequins and 8TRAX created vast gaps of nothingness as people flowed by. The famous PI entrance sign had holiday paper slapped carelessly across it; the PI map showed that there really is nothing here but a few shops plus Raglan Road. So different from a year ago, so different from just 3 months ago. This was a sad place to be on New Year's Eve. What will be here one year from now?