During the week of April 9, the hip-hop/underground dance club known as Club Waxx (1601 Leeland) officially became a state of mind. Well, a state of mind as far as the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority is concerned.
According to club owner Mike Jacksis, his landlord told him to vacate the premises. The landlord was getting pressure from the sports authority to shut it down to make way for the new basketball arena's parking garage. (Representatives for the sports authority couldn't be reached for comment.) This wasn't news to Jacksis. He knew his lease expired in November, but he thought he would be able to stick around awhile longer. He was even planning to fix up the patio in the back so he could present live music during the summer.
But alas, Waxx got polished off early. A settlement was reached with the sports authority, and Jacksis willingly relinquished his lease. "Basically, it kinda worked out, because we have pretty much done everything you could possibly do with that building," says Jacksis. "I was starting to feel that we weren't going to be able to hang with what's coming in the future."
Although Jacksis knew his time had to come to an end at the Leeland address, it was still an abrupt passing that took many folks by surprise. "It was Houston's first consistent hip-hop bar," says Jeff Messina, talent buyer and concert promoter for SFX. "It was the place to see hip-hop represented."
For four years Waxx (originally titled the Waxx Museum) brought not just hip-hop but also more exotic genres, such as techno, trance, drum 'n' bass and jungle to downtown Houston. It was a place where local and national artists could convene and perform for their cult of fans. Says Jacksis, "We've had plenty of memories: Mix Master Mike, Phife, the Roots It just goes on and on."
For a brief while, Club Waxx itself was just another one of those memories -- that is, until Jacksis talked with colleague and downtown ally Neil Heller, owner of warehouse techno club Hyperia (2001 Commerce). The two men had previously collaborated on a New Year's Eve party last year, and based on that success, Heller invited Jacksis to come down and bring the whole Club Waxx experience with him. On April 20 "Club Waxx at Hyperia" was officially designated for Friday and Saturday nights, and according to Jacksis, the club-within- a-club couldn't be a snugger fit. "I went to Miami for this music conference," says Jacksis, "and every club was just hitting two to three vibes, totally different vibes. Hopefully, we can bring that here."
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So far, the transition has been smooth. Flagship Waxx events like "Hip-hop Fridays" and the monthly "Starlight" party, put on by DJ and Waxx booking agent Joe B, are still heavily in rotation. "It's been real good," says DJ Tanya "Soul Free" Pelt, who has been frequenting the club recently to help promote the compilation CD Tracks from the Waxx. "You still get the same crowd coming in, dedicated people in the hip-hop culture."
"My goal is to get in here and bring our vibe," says Jacksis. "I guess we're calling this 'Club Waxx on Wheels' -- bring our vibe and shut down at two o'clock." Jacksis isn't worried about finding another full-time home for Club Waxx, maybe because he's pondering a move into the space next to Hyperia. "It doesn't matter where we're really at," he says. "When you come in, you'll feel the vibe."
For years the folks at Cabo (419 Travis), the "Mix-Mex" eatery downtown, knew their place was just a rest stop for fancy-dressed pavement pounders en route to the next club. So in an effort to make sure customers spend the whole night, management opened up its own club inside the quirky, industrial-chic Mexican cafe. Last December the restaurant took an empty storage space and transformed it into the dance lounge known as Club Sociale (pronounced "so-SHEE-al"). "We decided to build it out, make an area that was Cabo, but more dance-oriented," says manager Hahson Carrington. Open Thursdays and Fridays, this spot for music and margaritas also can be rented out during the week for the usual party/reception/bar mitzvah. But is this ritzy-glitzy joint really Cabo's chance to compete with other restaurants that have in-house nightspots, like Solero's (910 Prairie) second-floor den, the Czar Bar? "It was just an opportunity to give the guests a little bit more space," says Carrington, "to give the guests a little bit something more upscale at the same place to hang out." Any way you look at it, it is essentially a spot where you can get your groove on -- while waiting for your fish taco.