New Capitol Hill clubs should have you dancing by spring, ultra lounging by summer

(Image: Suzi Pratt)

“Construction” is not really the right word for an “ultra lounge.” An ultra lounge is created. Starting next week, honest-to-goodness construction creation work will start at the Broadway home of one of the next generation of Capitol Hill gay dance clubs.

Scott Smith gave CHS a tour of the soon to be transformed auto garage space that will become the 12,000 square foot Q dance club over the next several months. “Right here is where ‘the Beast’ will be,” he said as he pointed to near what is currently the roll-up door to Broadway in the former Capitol Hill Collision space. The “super-sofa” feature will cap the west end of the club — near the bourbon bar, naturally.


(Image: Suzi Pratt)

In the meantime, Smith and business partner Andy Rampl — “the straight one,” Smith says — might want to consider re-opening the garage business. A driver cruised right into the old garage space during our visit. Smith says he’s been asked to give an estimate. But there’s not long to wait. Next week, you should see activity begin at the 1426 Broadway garage across the street from the Harvard Market QFC.

That puts Q on pace for a summer opening — possibly sometime in June. Maybe July. Given the enormity of the project it’s best to leave things a little fuzzy.

The Social, already partially built out on E Olive Way, is now zeroing in on an April debut. Todd Nordahl, formerly of the late, great Rosebud, is heading up the restaurant portion of the project backed by a group of Capitol Hill entrepreneurs and the Laura Olson empire:

The Social is under way on Olive Way (Image: the Social)

We are excited to announce our latest venture: The Social – a three level 12,000 sqft ultra lounge/ restaurant and nightclub. The Social is located on East Olive and will feature three distinct rooms, including four bars and a 3000 sqft restaurant. The entertainment venue is being designed by award winning Capitol Hill firm Pb Elemental (recently named one of the Decades Best by Seattle Magazine). Our focus is to provide a well designed, fun, and high quality venue for the LGBT community. The Social is a joint venture of three Capitol Hill small business owners Alex Garcia (Emerson Salon, Banyan Branch), Shanon Thorson and Laura Olson (Po Dog, Auto Battery, Grim’s) . Drawing on their specific talents we will be featuring a gourmet food menu, holding daily events and drawing from national and international DJ talent. The Social is scheduled t o open this summer, watch for updates on facebook.com/ TheSocialSeattle. We are excited to join the expanding scene on East Olive with Tommy Guns, CC Atties.

Olson’s Auto Battery and Manhattan Drugs and Garcia’s Emerson Salon are CHS advertisers.

Despite the progress being made by the new guys, it hasn’t been the best time for the elder statesmen of Broadway dance clubs but there are signs things are getting better. We recently reported on the challenges faced by Neighbours as the City of Seattle required a series of upgrades to allow the club to continue at full capacity. Neighbours Underground appears to be a casualty of the process but the site has been busy this week with contractors working on the sprinkler system at the nearly 30-year-old club.

Q, it turns out, also has a plan for downsizing but this scheme is built in from the get-go. Smith says the 12,000 square foot space will be sectioned off to a 5,000 square-foot venue by sleek aluminum curtains on slower weeknights so the club can continue to operate without it feeling lonely in the nooks and crannies of the space. Add multiple DJ booths and a major investment in bleeding edge equipment and Q should be able to build a bustling party on any night of the week.

Today, however, you’ll only find the huge, empty garage. There’s an old auto elevator the partners are trying to get rid of if you are in the market. Smith walks east from the entrance along the south wall and explains the long, dramatic corridor that will extend the length of the club and provide a space for what promoters hope will be long lines of patrons able to wait inside, safe from the rain and, of course, looking fine. The hallways was a requirement from the Fire Marshal but, like other quirks of the 1912 building, Smith says the plan is to make it an asset. Same goes for the some 5,000 square feet of office, etc. space above the club. There’s no plan to put it to use yet but it will probably come in handy at some point.

There’s already been a change in plans for the main bar to a much larger, four sided “walk-around” counter flanked by three lounge seating areas and the mezzanine lounge that overlooks it. The project architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson also decided to pop open the space above the bar to create a 20 foot ceiling and open up the wall behind it that will be lighted with digital color washes.

In other words, Q ultra lounge will be even more ultra than originally planned when it debuts after a few months of creation.

20 thoughts on “New Capitol Hill clubs should have you dancing by spring, ultra lounging by summer

  1. Ambitious projects, wish them all the luck. I am a bit doubtful there is enough of a gay crowd to fill them regularly … which may mean that after trying to appeal to the gay crowd for a while, they may convert to straight bars and try to attract the Belltown or Pioneer Square party crowd up here, as those crowds may have sufficient numbers and spending income to meet the monthly bills of these clubs. Just something to keep in mind … I wonder how two major dance clubs that cater to the Belltown and Pioneer Square stratight party crowd would blend with the Capitol Hill crowds late on Friday and Saturday evenings?

  2. I have my doubts about the viability of the Social. CC’s in their new location nearby has already seemed to fizzle somewhat, and non-existing parking is a lot of the culprit. Now introduce a new club into the mix and put even greater demands on non-existent parking. You can wish all you want but everyone won’t take cabs to the place. If you don’t live close enough to walk, you really think twice about screwing with that parking ordeal.

    Q is only a little better. Another club on Broadway squeezed between Pike & Pine seems like so much packing 10 lbs of shit into a 5 lb bag.

  3. Or, Mr/Ms. Skeptical, what will happens is that Q, along with all the other new and thriving nightlife businesses in the Pike/Pine corridor will achieve a tipping point for the neighborhood and the nabe will become such a popular destination for entertainment that people won’t mind the parking situation. And by mind I mean “PAYING FOR PARKING THAT’S ALREADY AVAILABLE IN HUGE FUCKING QUANTITIES.”

    Here’s a hint: Harvard Market just across the street from Q charges 5 bucks and has a huge multi-hundred space garage. Then there’s the lot just two doors down from Q near Union. There’s parking next to Blockbuster on Broadway for three bucks after hours and there’s the huge lot on Harvard and Pike with four levels of always open parking that anyone who’s not so cheap that they can’t afford five dollars for the entire night can easily afford.

    It’s five dollars people! That’s less than the price of a draft beer in most of these places fer fucks sake!

    I think the key isn’t so much that parking is lacking — its that people are too damn cheap to want to spend a few shekels to park their cars. And really now, if you’re too cheap to park your car, why would these businesses want you as patrons?

    That will change once clubs like Q and The Social open and expand the Hill as a nightlife destination that didn’t exist before.

    Because face it folks, the days of Neighbours (a club that hasn’t renovated or improved itself on behalf of its customers since it opened just before the Civil War) and the Cuff (ditto — also a bar that charges more to admit women than men AND GETS AWAY WITH IT!) being the only games on The Hill is rapidly growing to a close.

    And if the price to enjoy something much better than what we’ve been stuck with for the last 30 years in the form of Neighbours and The Cuff — something that these deeply awful established throwback clubs that insultingly don’t give a rats ass about their patrons — is the price of ponying up five bucks to park . . . . . . . well then, sign me the fuck up!

    Because paying five bucks for parking is a small price to pay IMO.

  4. The Cuff charges more than $5 for women, which is what my (male) friends and I pay? As I recall there’s even a sign on the little podium where you enter that says $5. How much do women pay?

  5. The Cuff has not charged extra for woman in quit a while.

    To clarify the extra amount at the door.. It was only done on the 3rd Saturdays as it was an “event” night called “Mens Night” in conjunction with “Gear Night”. It was clearly advertised in their marketing as a fetish night for men. Cover was $5 for men not wearing LURE (Leather, Uniform, Rubber, Ect.), $15 for women not in LURE. Anyone woman or man in LURE with a Gear Pass available at Dog House Leathers was in for free. This was clearly stated in their website, social media marketing, flyers and posters.

    There are predominant heterosexual clubs downtown where men would pay an upwards of $30 while women were free. The Cuff gave a greater opportunity by offering free cover to any gender dressed in LURE for their LURE themed event. I personally don’t see any issue with that. It’s also nice going into a “Men’s” Levi bar and not having a lot of woman attending and mocking guys in the club for what they wear or at the fetish demo’s put on. The cover was added to detour women that was doing just that during gear night events. Gay clubs do attract women as many feel it’s a safe space to not get hit as much as other bars but the mocking of men and women in LURE in a men for men establishment is plain disrespectful.

    I also see our newer generation of gay men no longer needing to have a club or space to escape some of the homophobia that other older men attending did up until the late 90’s and even today. More and more gay men in their 20’s are bringing their female friends into gay men’s establishments without realizing the importance to some of their older brothers having a M4M space to escape and be free to be themselves. Gay establishments were originally created for just reason to escape. Our older brothers and sisters fought hard so that we could have safe places to be ourselves without worry or fret. Let’s try and remember to respect and honor the traditions of different establishments created for LGBT and the men and woman who helped us along the way. Just about any bar will have a written or unspoken mission or theme to their club for many reasons, but mostly sharing common ground with other patron. I’m not encouraging segregation in clubs, but try to honor what establishments theme, mission and purpose is.

    Most importantly though, go out, be safe, meet new people and have fun. I’m excited to see new venues opening and even more excited that we live in a society that can have above ground, openly gay and lesbian bars without the fear of what our brothers and sister had to endure to get us where we are at today..

  6. were your parents brother and sister?

    the Cuff has ALWAYS been a gay bar. it opened as a leather/men’s bar. Now they’re fighting the influx of vagina like every other bar that 20 something bimbos think they need to get into.

  7. Can’t say I like anything about Q’s interior design thus far….way too much Tomorrowland-meets-Albert Speer iciness. I’d send BCJ back to the drawing board on this one, tout de suite.

  8. I don’t think the issue is the price of parking. The issue is having to drive home drunk if you don’t take a cab. And I think these businesses would rather have a club full of people drinking, rather than a place full of designated drivers.

  9. I’m disappointed at the vag-hate on this thread. The first letter in LGBT (re The Social, “Our focus is to provide a well designed, fun, and high quality venue for the LGBT community”) stands for Lesbian. There are some vags in little-black-dresses who do NOT want the attention of the Belltown / Pioneer square crowd and are tired of the crowd at Wildrose.

    Personally, I’d be very excited to have a new Gay AND Lesbian friendly venue in our neighborhood. As long as the Gay AND Lesbian clientele are friendly. :)

  10. I don’t think what you’re seeing is referring to lesbians. I’d say most gay men are pretty OK w/ lesbians in their bars. These comments are assuming the little-black-dress crowd that infests the Cuff or Neighbors is generally Belltown/Pioneer Square/Eastside straight girls– which I think is actually pretty true. Any many are brought in by their 20-something twinkie gay friends. They do get really annoying. That’s not to say there are no femme lesbians that wear little black dresses.

  11. That’s exactly what I was thinking when I read this thread. I like to look good when I go out dancing. I want a place where I feel safe, too. I was hoping, as Jim S stated, that they were referring to the straight, party, frat-boy loving crowd.