Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Young crowd dance night away

Warehouse open till 4 a.m.

By William A. Weathers bweathers@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's 1:50 a.m. and colored lights are flashing, loud techno-music is pulsating, and two dozen people are gyrating on the dance floor.

Dawn Weiner dances on "Goth Night" Friday at the Warehouse.
(Jeff Swinger photos)
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        Some are dancing with a partner, some with multiple partners, and some are swinging solo.

        It's early Saturday at the Warehouse Nightclub in Over-the-Rhine, a place where you can literally dance the night away.

        The dance club, known for its alternative music mix and unusually late hours, celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.

        “I never thought this place would last 10 years,” says co-owner Dave Hughes. “And that it could survive this kind of year. The riots have had a huge effect. We're still open because the club has a very loyal following.”

A couple dances the night away.
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        When the club first opened it didn't even have a liquor license, Mr. Hughes recalls. But, he says, the Warehouse found its niche among the myriad nightclubs in Cincinnati on two fronts: It stays open until 4 a.m., and it has become a destination for people who love progressive alternative music.

        “We pride ourselves on having the most current music you would have a hard time hearing (anywhere else in Greater Cincinnati),” says Mr. Hughes.

        The hard-driving, techno-beat music is spun by DJs, and not something you'd find on Cincinnati airwaves.

        The Warehouse, located at 1313 Vine St.,is open 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Wednesday nights, and from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There's a bar and pool table in the front, a “quiet” space with tables and stools in the middle, and another bar and a dance floor in the rear.

        “I spend most of my time on the dance floor,” says Linda Poe, 21, of Newtown, a regular at the club. “A lot of my friends hang out here.”

        “It's fun,” Jackie Feltner, 19, of Fairfield, says while taking a brief respite from dancing. “The people here are really cool. There's nobody here trying to start trouble. Actually, I was very surprised to find a place like this in Cincinnati.”

        Tyrone Bronner, 20 of Norwood, who dances this night on a darkened dance floor with glowing light sticks in his hands, says he's at the Warehouse “every single night it's open.”

        He says he loves the friendly atmosphere of the nightclub, and the mix of people who frequent it.

        “It's a very different crowd. Everybody's different, but we're all the same here,” Mr. Bronner says. “If I see (some of) these people on the street they wouldn't say "hi,' but they say "hi' in here.” On this particular Friday in April, the nightclub debuts a new music format, Industrial Gothic — which probably explains why many of the patrons are dressed in black.

        What makes the Warehouse unique?

        “We have music most clubs can't get their paws on,” says Rikki Simmons, 24, of Walnut Hills, who DJs and handles the lights. “Plus it's dark. It's a different atmosphere from most clubs.”

        The patrons?

        Young people in their 20s to middle-age partyers, Mr. Simmons says.

        “It's mostly ravers, the top 40 crowd and some alternative people. Three years ago we had grandparents that were hanging out here.”

        Mr. Hughes, 40, of Price Hill, who owns the nightclub along with partner Kevin DeMorest, of Northside, says, “This is the most inclusive club you'll find in the city.”

        Warehouse patrons includes “guys in business suits, frat boys and neighborhood residents,” he says. “There's no particular type.”

        Sitting at the bar while smoking a cigar, Bruce Leroy Ventus, 54, of Over-the-Rhine, says he has been frequenting the Warehouse for the past seven years. He comes for “dancing and to have a beverage” and he likes the “liberality and freedom” of the night spot.

        As for the tunes, Mr. Ventus says, “They've got some music I don't like and they've got some I like. It's a balance.”

        At 3 a.m., an hour after liquor sales have ceased, the Warehouse is still hopping. Many patrons of other Over-the-Rhine nightclubs that close at 2 a.m. continue their night out at the Warehouse.

        “At two o'clock we're like a second destination,” Mr. Hughes says.

        The crime that often plagues Over-the-Rhine hasn't directly touched the nightclub operation, the partners say.

        “I think the neighborhood has been very respectful of our customers and their property,” says Mr. Hughes.

        “The image that people have is that it's unsafe down here,” Mr. DeMorest says, “and that's just not the case. It's (the area around the Warehouse) well-lighted and there's a lot of activity.”

        How's business?

        Well, the two partners are negotiating to purchase the building that houses the club.

        “We have plans for expansion that includes an outdoor courtyard and a live band venue on the second floor,” Mr. Hughes says. “I've always believed Cincinnati is a sleeping city just waiting to happen.”

        At 4 a.m. the Warehouse patrons file out the doors onto Vine Street. In 18 hours, many of them will be back to dance to another tune.

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