Hidden behind Richmond Strip favorites like Billy Blues Bar & Grill (6025 Richmond) and Polly Esther's (6111 Richmond), The Mansion (6303 Beverly Hill) is a lavish hangout that dares to break from the blindingly white traditions of the area and actually cater to folks whom some Strip regulars would just as soon call the cops on.
Open for about a year, The Mansion is a posh palace with a smooth, cozy decor too damn swank to be trifled with. A quaint mini-castle that serves martinis instead of mead, the main floor has a heavily stocked bar and an oval dance floor in dead center. (Good luck trying to get people to dance on it.) Patrons can get an overhead view of the dancers from the second floor, which includes another bar and a toasty VIP room with large vinyl seats and ottomans. (They have ottomans! Finally, a club you can take a nap in!)
Reported to have cost around $2 million, The Mansion was created to provide a steady entertainment venue for the luxury apartments around the area. Tenants notwithstanding, the club already has been attracting a mixed crowd. This is thanks, in part, to the entertainment provided on the three nights the club is officially open. On Thursdays, the place offers up jazz and poetry, although don't be surprised to hear a little DMX or Jay-Z in the mix. The poetry is the slam variety, hosted by KMJQ-FM personality Kandi Eastman. Friday nights are reserved for the Latin crowd with a thing called "The Latin City @ The Mansion," where, according to one of those glossy flyers, the club offers "the best in salsa, merengue and Spanish rock." Saturday nights are more open-ended, but sometimes the venue goes Latin again with a soiree titled "Sabados de Fiesta." When it's not getting its samba on, The Mansion books private parties or other social occasions like "Gatecrasher Mode: Vitality," a big techno-dance fest featuring the likes of Mark D and 303Infinity, that went down on December 20.
"I chose it because it is really plush, and it has a really diverse crowd," says Robin Matthews, owner of Indio Productions International and the man behind "Gatecrasher."
Although The Mansion is attracting a burgeoning number of minority patrons, other club owners are not fretting about the joint luring loyal customers away. "They have a very nice crowd," says Kevin Brock, general manager of Club Phoenix (9600 Westheimer), "but it's still not a black club."
True, it is not a black club, but thankfully, it's not a white club either. "We're trying to show that we'll cater to everyone," says Nader Siam, co-proprietor of The Mansion. Siam and his father, Mike, took over the reins of the club six months ago. The way Nader Siam talks, the club's multiethnic approach is more about casting a wide demographic net than about making a cultural statement on the Richmond Strip. "If we cater to a different crowd each night, we'll have a variety of people," he says, issuing the ultimate no-shit statement. "I mean, more people will be able to come out and enjoy our atmosphere here."
At the beginning of next year, The Mansion's owners are looking to expand business to Sundays, but until then, they are still welcoming folks to the three-night funky fiesta they already have going. DJ Reckless, who supplied the music for a recent private party at The Mansion, was still spinning from the experience. He calls the room "a cool place, really tight."
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For more information on The Mansion, call the general line at (713)953-0100.
Mark Moss, general manager of Emo's (2700 Albany), wants to squelch a rumor, like right now: "We are not shutting down, and we have not been asked to leave," he says. Rumors have been circulating that the famed "alternative lounge" would be closing ever since the building that houses the establishment was put up for sale sometime ago. The gossip only intensified when Club Some, the after-hours hangout that also was located in the building, vacated its premises. But Moss assures us that Emo's will be forever parked in its Albany spot. In fact, on the eve of New Year's Eve, Emo's will celebrate its 11th anniversary with hard-rockers Slim. [For more information, call (713)523-8503.] "We'll always be here," Moss says. "Please come and empty your wallets and max out your credit card."
Now, as for Club Some, them muthafuckas are long gone. But not to worry, children of the night. Club Some owner Neil Heller has moved the late-late-night action over to his downtown club Hyperia (2001 Commerce), where Wednesday through Friday the party will keep on going right up until the next morning. So is everybody happy?