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Hidden Things

Mercer is an upscale neighborhood nightclub, if you can find it.

First off, eff Edloe.

Edloe is your exit if you're coming down U.S. 59 intending to visit Highland Village hideaway Mercer (3302 Mercer). Somehow, depending on which direction you're traveling, Edloe is listed on two opposing exit signs — Buffalo Speedway and Weslayan — which basically places it at the center of eternity.

With apologies to Houston rapper K-Rino, finding Edloe at night on the first try is like constipation: That's some shit that just ain't gonna happen.

No Joke: Mercer welcomes comic-book villains, Jay-Z dancers and everyone in between.
Larami Culbertson
No Joke: Mercer welcomes comic-book villains, Jay-Z dancers and everyone in between.

Secondly, this column is being researched on October 17.

The date is noteworthy because, at the moment, a woman in Mercer is dressed head to toe in a Joker costume, and there's no masquerade ball or Halloween event going on. She's the only one in character. A guy who kinda looks like the bad guy from Die Hard is at the front bar, but he always looks like that.

Ms. Joker is in full-on makeup. Her black trench coat is hanging down to her knees. And she's swaying back and forth to Jay-Z's "Run This Town," an oddly appropriate song. She looks all kinds of creepy-crazy. Although a Batman costume might've been more appropriate since he, in fact, runs Gotham City.

Joker, on the other hand, would probably dance to Kiss's "Psycho Circus" or, if he were feeling lonely, Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown." Captain America would dance to the Pledge of Allegiance; Superman would not dance to "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down; and Scrooge McDuck would definitely jam the Geto Boys' "Ain't With Being Broke." Sorry.

Anyhow, despite the initial weirdness of the situation — it's a peculiar feeling to turn around on a club's dance floor at 1 a.m. and lock eyes with the late Heath Ledger — there is a very reasonable explanation.

"I was at a fund-raiser for a nonprofit organization," says the costumed Leslie Pierkowski, a fiftyish IT worker for a major oil company.

"The people I came with all wore masks," she adds with a laugh.

Fair enough. So why this place, then?

"This is a favorite bar of a friend of mine," Pierkowski/Ledger says. "It's a good place, especially if I were [in] this age range. But nobody gives me a hard time."

She's right: Mercer isn't a typical stuffy dance club. It bills itself as a lounge/nightclub amalgam, but anytime those things are joined together the nightclub part always dominates. Somehow, though, Mercer exudes enough confidence that it doesn't seem to worry about that type of thing at all.

This nightclub, lounge, whatever, is in the same building that Uropa used to be in, and retains a bit of Uropa's "We're Cool Because We're Hard to Find" aura, only without the pretentiousness that usually accompanies a tag like that.

It might be more accurate to compare Mercer to the original Gallant Knight on Holcombe. That place was wonderfully cramped and bustling and one misplaced cigarette away from burning to the ground, but people felt comfortable there. The same can be said for Mercer, minus the burning part.

Mercer's general design and decor is that of a mid level upscale nightclub. The hip Moroccan theme suits the room well. And the crowd, though somewhat older (thirties, generally), is just sparkly enough to suggest Washington Avenue trendiness.

But the close quarters — Mercer's ceilings are about eight feet high, and the majority of the inside space is a narrow hallway that circles around into itself — makes it feel more intimate and personable than the same design would in an even slightly larger venue.

It ends up feeling a lot like some sort of hybrid between a neighborhood bar and a nightclub, and that makes it unexpectedly unique.

Give them long enough, and upscale nightclubs pretty much always turn trashy. Meanwhile, neighborhood bars, by definition, have to be at least a little homely to last. But there's no precedent for a neighborhood nightclub. It'll be interesting to see which way this place goes.

The most pertinent question, however, still remains: Why didn't the Joker just wash the makeup off her face before she got to the club?

Seriously. It would've taken, like, two minutes.

LAST CALL

We've touched on the importance of Walter's on Washington (4215 Washington) before. And with the club's final live show on Washington looming this Saturday — although rumors have begun floating that it might stick around a little longer before relocating; watch our Rocks Off blog for further developments — we'd like to reiterate: Washington Avenue will suffer a massive blow when the venue does close, whenever that is.

For nearly ten years, Walter's has been a beacon for the local indie-rock scene. Even while Washington was becoming the nexus of glitz, Walter's remained important (possibly becoming more so). And seeing all of the Ed Hardy shirts on the way to Reign Lounge (4105 Washington) momentarily mixing with the black skinny Levis walking to Walter's was always an interesting people-watching situation, like watching bears and tigers meet for the first time. In retrospect, it's a wonder nobody was mauled to death.

 
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