It’s been a roller-coaster inaugural year at Q nightclub.
The Pike and Broadway EDM venue opened with lots of fanfare last September, boasting a top notch sound system and a cavernous space outfitted with sleek lighting and designs.
LGBT events came and went, raising some eyebrows about what happened to the Q. Then last month co-founder Scott Smith sold his stake in the club. The “gruff but lovable gay face” of Seattle’s club and EDM scene apparently left on less than amicable terms. And last week this video of a fight outside Q went neighborhood-viral prompting some big time disco soul searching: For Gay Community, Rise in Bashing Isn’t a Question of ‘If.’ It’s a Question of ‘Why’, Seattle Weekly wrote, inspired by the reaction to the video.
By most measures, including lines out the door, the club delivered on its promise to be a top notch EDM venue in Seattle. And despite their shared beginnings, things have turned out decidedly better for Q than the now shuttered Social club. But underpinning much of the year were questions about just what type of club Q wanted to be. Few clubs successfully sustain a one-size-fits-all venue — most establish their niche right off the bat. But even among Capitol Hill’s discerning food / drink / club crowd, a consensus on Q’s identity never seemed to coalesce.
Owner Andy Rampl wants to change that. It’s part of the reason he recently hired longtime Seattle DJ Sean Majors as Q’s creative director.
“How can we be a nightclub that isn’t gay or straight? I want to take sexuality out of the equation,” Majors said while talking to CHS inside Q’s red-splashed mezzanine.
“I want to have drag queens and furries and straight people out on a Saturday night.”
Rampl told CHS he’s learned a lot in the past year. Q is Rampl’s first foray into owning a business, and his first time managing a nightclub. “I had to adjust to the new environment, especially being in back of the house,” he said.
Rampl came to Seattle from New York by way of Washington D.C., where he worked in political think tanks. He came to Seattle after a fortuitous conversation with a friend about wanting to start his own food/drink business. That friend put him in touch with Scott Smith, and Rampl was in Seattle within a year.
Rampl is self-admittedly not the stereotypical, steal-the-spotlight club owner. He declined to have his picture taken for this story.
“I’m shy, very reserved,” he said. “Running the club has been a great growing experience for me as a person.”
One of Rampl’s proudest accomplishments at the club thus far is the introduction of Q Vodka, his signature infused-booze that he says he wants to begin selling outside the club.
Rampl said he wants to incorporate more audio visual elements to club, including a large LED wall. He’s also planning to wall off a smaller room for an ultra-lounge on slower nights and tweaks to the layout and furniture. Majors will be helping implement the changes, as well as programming more themed nights, live mixing DJs, and expanding the club to seven nights a week.
“I don’t have a background in the industry, so I desperately needed somebody and Sean was a perfect fit,” Rampl said.
In the coming months, Majors said he also wants to focus on creating more theater and less sex inside the club; more Cirque du Soleil and less go-go dancing. “With so many new residents, this is only the beginning. We have to show people what we want to be,” he said. “If you’re not comfortable with drag queens and furries on the dance floor, you’ll know this is just not the place for you.”
Despite some initial growing pains, Rampl said he’s committed to Q and continuing to contribute to Seattle’s nightlife scene.
“I’m pleased with how the last year went,” he said. “Moving to Seattle was one of the better decisions in my life.”