Dallas’ Lizard Lounge hosts a couple of noisy-stuff nights a week, under the name The Church. On Thursdays and Sundays, the DJs spin neo-gothic, industrial and electro (that’s according to The Church’s website) tunes in one of the cooler club environments I’ve experienced.
The Lizard Lounge isn’t a goth club every night of the week, but the atmosphere and building lend themselves well to the task. The building dates to 1899 and is registered in the Texas Haunted Building Registry, so that’s a good start. Head through the front door and you’ve got a choice of turning left, right or going straight, up a curved staircase. To the left, you’ll find the main bar and a good-sized, multi-level dance floor that includes a platform with a stripper pole. A seating area curves around the front of the dance floor with a walkway in between, providing good people-watching space. The sound system is fantastic, loud enough to make your chest hurt but clean enough to keep the music clear and distortion-free. The lighting and other décor are equally well put together. Random trivia: the video for Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock & Roll” was filmed in this building.
On the other side (that is, if you turn to the right after entering) you’ll find a more conventional dance floor and a secondary bar, as well as the doors to an outdoor patio. There’s smoking allowed inside the bar as well (though that may reportedly change soon depending on Texas law) but when the weather permits the fresh air is nice. The two downstairs dance floors connect at the rear in a small maze of hallways and seating areas.
Done exploring yet? Nope. Upstairs there are wingback chairs lining the balcony, the better for people-watching and socializing, and yet another small bar. Plenty of places to get your drink on in the Church.
The Church’s main dance floor is the most fun, and it’s where the club’s carnival atmosphere is most noticeable. The multi-tiered space is shallower than most dance floors, which gives it a very stagelike feeling. There’s no fading into the background here; if you’re dancing, the people watching can see you. Rather than being intimidating, however, the Church’s dance floor is inviting. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the friendly regulars would be happy to see you take a turn on the pole, or up on the uppermost stage level. The social hierarchy isn’t oppressive, unless of course you’re a complete jerk in which case the security staff will politely ask you to leave. Otherwise, the Church wants you to come in, have a drink or two, meet someone, and go strut your stuff on the dance floor when you’re ready.
In my six or eight trips to the Church, the music has gone one of two ways. Of course, I’m happiest when it leans toward the noisy end of the spectrum, with Rob Zombie, Skinny Puppy, Combichrist and VNV Nation well represented. DJ Joe Virus is creative, too, putting together excellent “themed” sets: the “R. Lee Ermey” and “nasty girl” groupings are especially cool, as is the Homestar Runner/Rammstein mashup that’s only available at the Church, to the best of my knowledge. On other nights, the Church’s main floor is a retro-New Wave paradise, all a-swirl with Depeche Mode, Dead or Alive, Sisters of Mercy and Shriekback. If New Wave is your thing, the Church’s smaller dance floor is perpetually stuck in the Day-Glo Eighties. This lends itself well to long club nights; bored of one kind of noise? You can go over and relax to another.
Of the clubs I’ve been to, the Church comes the closest to creating that “home” feeling that I get back in Detroit, at City Club. I won’t pretend to have an objective club-ranking system, but to date I will call the Church my second-favorite dancin’ place, and that’s high praise indeed.
Image by: thechurchpictures.com