Here's what NORAD's closing will mean for Denver's dance music community

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Ken Hamblin
Update, 5/1: Since this story went to press, some of the promotional entities involved have come up with a new arrangement. Please see the bottom of the story for details

Preston Douglas opened NORAD Dance Bar two years ago with the intention of uniting an underground dance-music scene that had previously been relegated to vacant warehouses and discreet late-night locations. Although members of that scene have started to pack the floors at NORAD, business hasn't been good enough to allow Douglas to compete with others who want to buy the space. NORAD will close at the end of May.

Since news of the club's closing broke last week, Douglas notes, some of Denver's largest entertainment companies, including LiveNation and AEG Live, have approached him about working with them. "Clubs base success off of a three-year trajectory, and we were on track to do very well," he says.

See also: NORAD Dance Bar is closing at the end of May

The building that houses NORAD, at 821 22nd Street, has been for sale for nearly six years. NORAD's owners moved in with the understanding that once the building was sold, the continuation of the club would be at the discretion of the new owners. The landlord has now found new owners, and their plans do not involve NORAD.

When it closes, Denver will lose one of its most prominent gathering places for serious dance-music fans. NORAD's weekly residencies have been successful because the venue attracts a group of fans from an older generation who have a history in the warehouse raves of the late '90s and early '00s; it's also populated by a crop of younger fans looking for more varied and complex music than that offered by mainstream EDM. Patrons appreciate the minutiae associated with house music, a genre in which NORAD's residencies specialize: the groove of a room, the communal feeling of mutual appreciation and respect, the intricacies of sound braided in a repeating bass line.

There will still be places for house fans to indulge that vibe once NORAD closes, but they will be diminished. The HOME Denver residency, currently at NORAD, will move to Bar Standard on Broadway. It will replace Denver Disco, a weekly night dedicated to the nu-disco sound. Other Friday-night options for people looking to dance include Sub.mission Dubstep's Bassic Friday at Beta, and a reinvented Global Fridays at the Church, which recently installed a new sound system. In addition, the long-running Lipgloss is still held each week at Beauty Bar. (Update: Contrary to the original arrangement, Denver Disco will work with The Hundred at Bar Standard. For details, see the bottom of this story)

For its part, NORAD was beginning to consistently fill its space. But its owners weren't just competing against other nightclubs; they were competing against everything that might possibly occupy a piece of increasingly prime real estate close to downtown. When a buyer emerged with other plans -- there are rumors floating around that they involve either a restaurant or a retail store -- Douglas and his business partners couldn't match their offer on the building. "We've never been rich club owners; we're music enthusiasts and fans," says Douglas. "We've weighed the numbers, and unless someone came through with the money and would partner with us as a nightclub, it's not something we are ready to jump into."

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Ken Hamblin

Outside of its staff, NORAD's closing impacts few people more directly than Brennen Bryarly, known in the music world as Option4. He's the founder of promotional company The Hundred, which presents the HOME Denver residency at NORAD. "The music we bring is everything that relates to four-on-the-floor," Bryarly says, "but it's not specific to any genre. We are going to book what we think is underground and interesting, all while trying to stay relevant."

NORAD was a perfect fit for HOME. "That was the most beautiful thing about NORAD: We were all doing it because we love the music and supported the scene," Bryarly says. Still, the lack of a large financial backer -- the very thing that prevented Douglas from buying the space outright -- often put a strain on things. There was no big budget to help with talent buying, marketing or even staffing events. "As much as I'll miss [NORAD]," concedes Bryarly, "it was always stressful for me to throw shows there."

More implications are on the next page.



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41 comments
Justin Dillon
Justin Dillon

YAY this is the best news I've heard all week

Rob Jennings
Rob Jennings

I started reading this article then dozed off once you got into the nonsense about the minutia of the dance scene in Denver. Powerful reporting!

coclubsarebroclubs
coclubsarebroclubs

coclubs and underground should never be used in the same sentence. i don't think home had any underground cred in the first place but whatever it did have just curled up and died.

Victor Murcia
Victor Murcia

Love that they brought in some house and techno artist to Denver!!

ColemanHomes
ColemanHomes

Does anyone know what's going into NORAD's old space? What's happening with that building?

Will Raidle
Will Raidle

HOME Denver is moving to Bar Standard, still 21+.

Praveen Pepper
Praveen Pepper

^^^^^ Lolwut?... Hey Preston & Lora, maybe you have some input here, I'm laughing too hard. :D

Michael Beckerman
Michael Beckerman

Suite 200 has announced that they will be closing very soon as well. Denver needs a serious night club upgrade. It's only about 25 years over due for that now. Will someone please get on a plane and fly to NYC and spend a weekend in the clubs there first BEFORE opening a new night club here in Denver - so they can see what a real night club is supposed to be like? If I have to visit one more watered down, milk-toast, boring night club in Denver that wouldn't know the first thing about what a real night club is supposed to be like, I think I'm going to vomit. Denver has so much potential to be a REAL night club destination city, but not one single club owner here has ever had the guts to really let their hair down, be brave and seriously push the envelope. Everyone here just wants to play it safe. News Flash: that's NOT what night clubs are supposed to do! If the club doesn't a.) upset you b.) confuse you c.) offend you or d.) completely shock you then that club isn't doing its job - and it should ideally be doing all of the above simultaneously. I keep waiting for the night club scene here in Denver to FINALLY mature, grow up and evolve to where it should have been over twenty years ago. I'm still waiting - and unfortunately, so is everyone else in Denver as well.

Justin 'jb' Brown
Justin 'jb' Brown

That's what they get for not letting Carrington Bible and I in.

Shean Leigon
Shean Leigon

NORAD is finally closing? What did C.J. Botts do?

Praveen Pepper
Praveen Pepper

It means we'll be stuck returning to be tortured by the underage shit parade at Beta, ugh. Painful. And such a cool club, wish they'd just change it to 21+.

John Cernosek
John Cernosek

so fucking glad they didnt cut out Wills face in this.

Sara Trout
Sara Trout

It means we start a new dance bar.

laruphotos
laruphotos

Not one mention of PUNCHIS?!?!? Underground card revoked 

colinchm13
colinchm13

Britt Chester , as a former journalist and now someone heavily involved with this "scene" you are attempting to report on, I have to say this article/blog post is pretty much garbage. But maybe the goal is not balanced reporting anymore? Was this a PR piece for how well SoCo is now positioned with NORAD's closing? If so, GREAT job. If not, how about you try talking to someone outside of NORAD and SoCo? Despite this gem (which caused me to nearly cough up a sandwich on my screen) - "Between Bar Standard and Club Vinyl (which it also owns), nearly all of the city's house music now rests in a fifty-yard stretch on Broadway shared between Friday and Saturday nights." REALLY? This is news to me. You have now, in essence, minimized Denver's house music scene to TWO clubs owned by the same company? This couldn't be further from the truth. No disrespect to anyone involved with either NORAD or SoCo, as we have clearly done plenty of shows with both - and do have more planned in the future. But Britt obviously has not attended an "underground" music event outside of one of these clubs in some time. I know it's possible to think the house music scene only exists in the ad pages of Denver Westword, but there is a TON of great stuff going on in this city that doesn't have an advertising deal with the publication. I know I can say with almost 100% certainty that I have never seen you attend or cover any of the AA events that were in warehouses or non-club venues. So maybe you weren't aware that Denver had a THRIVING "underground" scene before NORAD opened - with international headliners being brought in weekly at non-club venues? Now, two years later, we have all invested even more in this "underground" music scene. Considering we are obligated to no club and only have one Friday or Saturday event planned at either of the SoCo clubs you christened as hosting "nearly all of the house music in Denver", if I didn't know better, I'd be concerned about my future and the "underground" in this city. Luckily, though, I can think back a few days and remember the awesome people we had celebrating the "underground" at the Gothic Theatre. So we're going to keep thinking out of the box with this beautiful music. Before you go on slanting anymore about "house music" or "the underground", I suggest you try thinking out of the box as well with your reporting. Cheers.

brandongonzo
brandongonzo

Hey Sophie, the Westword made a typo. I'm the General Manager of Bar Standard, Denver Disco isn't going anywhere. Friday nights will be Denver Disco and the Hundred present Home at Bar Standard. We're excited! Oh and shame on you Britt

Jeremiah Jones
Jeremiah Jones

Peter Jaffray Edee Anesi You may find this interesting.

Scrophie
Scrophie

Where does Denver Disco move to?

joeg716
joeg716

I love that they originally let out press releases for their "Proper Saturdays" returning to 21+ like when they opened, but then they never followed through on it, not even one weekend. 


domgess
domgess

Bar Standard is 21+.

IAMAUTHORITY
IAMAUTHORITY

@colinchm13  STFU, if you don't care for publications and advertising stop clicking on the fucking links and giving your stupid opinion. You know what's really underground? Raves that are strictly advertised through carrier pigeon. Get your dreaded head out of your ass, hippy,

Kiernan_Maletsky
Kiernan_Maletsky moderator

@brandongonzo  OK, we talked to both organizations again. This new arrangement was reached after our story went to press -- see the post for an update with some details about the current plans. We'll continue to update this space if anything else changes. 

Kiernan_Maletsky
Kiernan_Maletsky moderator

@brandongonzo  Thanks for touching base! We'll look into the issue now and make sure we have the right information out there. 

coclubsarebroclubs
coclubsarebroclubs

@domgess hey BRO, you clearly work for coclubs. all i had to do was look at your other comments on westword articles. of course you defend your BROclub. coclubs might as well move all their clubs to brodo considering their customers.

colinchm13
colinchm13

@IAMAUTHORITY Actually, you've badly missed the point. I DO care for the publication. I enjoy it quite a bit and, from experience, I know it's capable of quality stuff. THAT is why I posted a comment. I don't care for the reporting or some of the writing on the piece. And guess what, champ? THAT is exactly why there is a COMMENTS section. Maybe go to North Korea if you don't want to hear opinions? Best of luck.

coclubsarebroclubs
coclubsarebroclubs

@domgess considering every club on the website is owned by the same company/person that's semantics. and please spare me the offer of "culture" lessons from those clubs. that's an offer you can't fulfill.

domgess
domgess

@coclubsarebroclubs  Haha. Come get some culture. I'll buy you a drink. FYI, coclubs is a website.  It's not a company. 

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