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From Discreet to Discrimination

Relaxing at the modish Ibiza Lounge, addressing claims of racism at Bond Lounge

DJ Jason Hilbert hates kids. Well, not entirely.

"I hate playing for kids," says the 35-year-old DJ, who instantly became cooler when he revealed he spins sans some lame DJ name like "Hands of Gold" or "Mixalicious." Perhaps that's why he's so satisfied with his job spinning a house-based fusion Wednesdays and Saturdays at mature, upscale Midtown enclave Ibiza Lounge (2450 Louisiana).

To be thorough, the lounge's actual name is The Lounge Next Door at Ibiza and, in an eerie bit of coincidence, is actually located next door to Ibiza Food & Wine. Its name is the only part of the establishment that seems excessive.

Ibiza DJ Jason Hilbert fine-tunes his tables on a recent Saturday night.
Larami Culbertson
Ibiza DJ Jason Hilbert fine-tunes his tables on a recent Saturday night.

Ibiza Lounge is stripped down to its lounge-y, minimalist essentials. Muted colors and indistinct lighting accent ­custom-made furniture crafted from eight types of imported wood, 70 kinds of fancy-pants wines and an 80-inch television that descends from the ceiling. There's no large neon sign out front, which automatically makes it hipper than any venue obnoxious enough to advertise its own existence.

"We don't advertise, we don't have a sign and we do that on purpose," says Ibiza general manager Rob Cook. "We want to be a word-of-mouth, for-those-who-know kind of place."

To that end, T.L.N.D.a.I. has been politic enough to begin building a VIP clientele list in a mere seven months. This past month, pointy-shoed pseudo-socialites occasionally found themselves rubbing elbows with professional football players (De­Meco Ryans), professional basketball players (Nick Van Exel) and smooth-jazz celebrities (Kenny G).

Bond Lounge (2700 Milam), located two blocks from Ibiza and directly across from Fix Lounge (2707 Milam), has taken the opposite approach to steady minimalism.

"The place is based on giving people a new experience, so every six months we change it up," says Bond owner Augustine Bui. "That's why we've been around for three years. And we just purchased the spot next to us, too. So that trend will ­continue."

As constant as Bond's renovations and elaborate Top 40 mixes from DJ Johnny J are allegations of racism, specifically in regards to access. On numerous occasions, the exclusive Bond has allegedly discriminated against nonwhites in favor of leggy blonds.

"Yeah, I hear that. It's because we're exclusive," says Bui. "We have a really strict dress code; we don't want to downgrade the place. I'm an Asian; the door guy is Mexican; the other door guy is Black. We're not ­racists."

Anyone telling you you're not good enough gets people mad, especially after they spent all that time making sure that only the front of their shirt was perfectly tucked into their frayed jeans. Nobody knows this better than a doorman, saddled with the responsibility of judging people's worthiness on a nightly basis.

"We get that a lot, you know, especially me," says Geno S., a Bond bouncer who requested his last name not be used. "I read it on different Web sites, or people say it to my face: 'Prince-looking mutha fuckin' faggot, you're a racist.' Like I wear a swastika to work or something. It's not about race, though."

Geno talks candidly, but with the precaution of someone who knows the conversation is being recorded.

"I even hear that I'm discriminating against heavy-set people," he says. "But I know how to deal with it. I know they're drunk, they got told no, they wanna release, they wanna be bad-asses, but I take a chill stance. People take things personally. It's not. I'm just doing my job."

Once inside, the 18-and-up lounge is actually less interesting than a conversation with its doorman of three years (who's manned doors for nine altogether). It has a slight L.A. feel (10-foot-by-10-foot projector screens, bright colors, white floors, the occasional fake boob), but more like someone's idea of an L.A. club based on some pictures they saw. Still, Bond's forced-feeling nature fits, as the younger, faux-hawked crowd — not even close to being predominantly white, and not entirely trim, either — appear to be enjoying themselves while making sure you notice how much fun they're having.

If that's your scene, and the Roxy (5351 W. Alabama) is full, then you'll probably enjoy this place.

Heed these three tips from current doormen and you'll be drinking $8 shots in no time:

1. You're going to a club, not Wal-Mart, so consider changing those Reeboks and Jordache jeans.

2. Don't be ugly. Nobody likes ugly, not even God.

3. It's not a basketball game, so don't show up with four other dudes. Bring girls. Lots.

Try these tips at other selective spots: Level (412 Main), a hip-hop-heavy lounge offering an interesting mix of fancy watches and smarminess; Epic Lounge (3030 Travis), where you can expect small couches and a mix of House, Top 40 and hip-hop on Saturdays; and Crome (2815 S. Shepherd), where, on Sundays, you can hang out with the Fickle 500 and listen to trance music.

 
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