Here's the thing you're either going to hear or have already heard about Republika (2905 Travis): The club only lets white people in.
Opened and run by former promoter Ray Mousavi, the two-month-old venue is currently the draw in Midtown for those looking for a clubby good time. Its popularity isn't debatable. Get there any time after 11 p.m. and you're all but guaranteed to wait in a substantial line.
Even a little after 1 a.m. on an uncomfortably cold Saturday night and with several other venues within a couple minutes' drive, a throng of antsy, mostly well-dressed people is still waiting to get inside Republika's sign-less building. One brown-eyed, black-haired woman reiterates an already-familiar refrain to anyone within earshot: "The only people they're letting in are blonds with blue eyes. Just watch. This is ridiculous."
But here's the part of all this that's actually true: Little to none. At least, not to the extent that people will assume.
"It is hard to get in, that's true," says Mousavi. "Our main goal is to keep it more girls than guys, try to keep it a good mix of good-looking people. But I don't like getting a lot of any one ethnicity. Normally our door guy makes sure our crowds are very mixed, because too much of any race kind of freaks people out."
Once inside, this seems a true enough statement.
Presently, the room is absolutely stuffed, crowded to an almost uncomfortable point. So much so, in fact, that we considered making a joke here about how, unlike other Midtown clubs, the people inside are like Steve Buscemi's teeth – all pressed up and leaning on each other.
Anyhow, the place is filled. And the majority of people are absolutely not white. More noticeable than that, though, is how fast-paced everything feels.
Washington Avenue nightlife factory Ei8ht (5102 Washington) had an equally impressive swarm of clubbers inside in the opening stages of its life cycle, but the people there seem tame by comparison. Inside Republika, it's a madhouse. The dance floor, sunk down about three feet lower than the railing that surrounds it, feels like that rave scene in The Matrix Reloaded.
The crowd, which teeters right around the 21-to-22-year-old mark because, as Mousavi puts it, "We want the people that still have some party in them," seems to be properly pleased.
"I usually go to the Heights," says Josh Chacko, 22, who's celebrating a friend's birthday. "This is the second time I've been here. It's fuckin' awesome."
Bank teller Jackie Portillo, also 22 but celebrating her own birthday, says of the clubby atmosphere aimed at her demographic, "The service is perfect, the drinks are perfect, it's perfect." (Disclaimer: Portillo says her friend "knows the owner," which may have something to do with Republika's perfection.)
When one of the girls in attendance for Portillo's birthday party crashes over their VIP table, knocking herself and all of the drinks onto the ground, nobody flinches. She wobbles her way back onto her feet, checks if her elbows are bleeding, sees that they're not, then begins making out with a guy while they dance.
Nobody flinches at this either.
About 20 feet from her is a woman in a too-short dress pressed up against a wall as an eager gentleman dry-humps her. About 30 feet from them is a girl standing/dancing on a table who periodically screams as loud as she can for what appears to be no good reason at all.
And, about 20 feet from her, another woman is propped up on a wall near the smokers' patio, this one vomiting into her hands but still (somehow) standing straight up.
According to Mousavi, pretty much every Saturday night is like this.
"We're not a lounge, we're not a bar, we're not a pub, whatever you want to call it," he says a few days later by phone. "We're a nightclub. We're gonna go full speed all night. That's exactly what we want. If you want to go somewhere and sip on a beer, we're not the place for you."
Two completely unrelated things: First, this will be the second time in less than six months that we felt compelled to mention this, but for sure, shady valet parkers are just about the worst. At the lot opposite Republika, two of the guys working there were working the bait-and-switch move, where the first guy says parking is $10 and to pull in and park and pay the guy at the back. Then the guy at the back says that parking is actually $15. We're not sure how much parking actually is, but if you make enough noise, the second guy usually relents and takes $10. Second, recent Artist of the Week The Cocker Spaniels performs Saturday night at Notsuoh (314 Main). Go see him, he's fly. You can hear his music at blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks.
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