Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tuesday Night Mini-Mash Up Featuring Northern Lights Lounge

This Tuesday night we made the drive downtown for a double-header. We warmed up at Northern Lights (Downtown), and later tired ourselves out dancing at the Untitled party at the Shelter (Downtown). The atmospheres were polar opposites of one another, which only helped to keep things interesting. There's not much point in talking about the Shelter since the quality of each night is directly related to the event, but we'll throw in our few cents.

If Buzz Bar (Downtown) is defined as an upscale, urban sort of bar, then consider the Northen Lights Lounge the lounge-y equivilent. You can catch the DJ spinning anything from house to hard hip-hop. If you're picky and not open to listening to good music regardless of the genre, check ahead to see what's happening. But we recommend you go there blind and just enjoy whatever they're serving up. Cover was only $3 that night.

One of the nicest things about Northern Lights is the amount of seating avaiable. When you walk in you'll see couches and chairs directly in front of you. The bar itself has high-tops, and there are a handful of high-top tables+chairs just opposite the bar. There's also a giant flat screen and a handful of smaller screens scattered around the bar. But walk a little further back and you'll see booths galore. The DJ spins in the back, and the dance floor amounts to whatever space is between the booths, and not already occupied by those who claimed their standing room. There's often always someone breaking it down and strutting their stuff in front of the decks, so don't think you can't come here to dance. You can- but watch out for break dancers. Really.

Getting a drink was a little difficult. But it wasn't because the bartenders were slow. For some reason it seemed like everyone at the bar always wanted a drink at the same time. There were numerous occasions when, drink in hand, the bar was wide open for orders- but it wasn't until we were ready for our next round that everyone else also felt the need to re-order. Such is life. Alcohol selection was also somewhat limited, considering neither Skyy nor Effen vodka was on hand.

The crowd was prodominentaly black with lots of giant, puffy coats and lifesaver vests. Mixed in were handfuls of hipsters from Wayne State, and a few other one-offs. Don't misunderstand us and assume people were dressed down. You could tell people made it a point to look good before coming out. Wear whatever your style is and wear it well, and you'll fit right in.

By 12/1230a, Northern Lights started to actually get busy. Whereas before it was easy to make it to the back, now was just a sea of people mingling and having fun. You still could have gotten through, but it looked as though effort might actually be required. We didn't stay much longer becuase our desire to check out the party at the Shelter was a bit too tempting. Fast foward 20 minutes and we're walking across an empty lot to the back door of St. Andrews Hall (Downtown). (Note: If don't care to read about the Shelter, scroll down for our overall summary of Northern Lights)

If you've never been to St. Andrews Hall or the Shelter, the first thing you need to know is that St. Andrews is the main floor, and the Shelter is the basement. Bands and DJs have played on both floors, and shows can either be really good or really bad. Nothing was happening upstairs tonight, but downstairs was the Untitled party. Lots of techno. Lots of flashing lights. Lots of good times.

When you actually consider it, the Shelter can hold a lot of people. The main area houses the bar, a small stage, and has a raised cage in the corner for DJs. There's a long seating area along one of the walls in the back with tables, and off in an opposite corner are a cluster of tables+chairs. But at a party like Untitled, there aren't many people sitting down. Everyone is either dancing, or waiting for a drink at the bar. There's also a MUCH smaller back room, which on this night, housed other DJs. Keep in mind the Shelter is a basement and it's not done up. It's the furthest thing from hip, but it can still manage to host some pretty hot parties. The only reason to really dress up is because you WANT to dress up. Unless you plan on going somewhere else before or after, we recommend you wear whatever is comfortable, and whatever you don't mind having to wash tomorrow because it smells like smoke. That's really all we have to say. Overall the party was fun. The music was great and the crowd was feeling it.

Norther Lights is a great place to warm up, cool down, or get down. You could get there early and close it up, or follow our steps and use it as a launching pad for the rest of the night. Many times we've criticized bars for creating a great ambiance, only to later ruin it by catering to the masses for the sake of financial gain. Northern Lights does not fall into this category. They installed a great vibe, and the crowd works with it. It is, for all intensive purposes, one of the closest things you'll find to a cool lounge in Metro Detroit.