Numbered clubs -- do the math
It all adds up to more people, better spaces, less parking
For a highly anticipated event, the grand opening party of eleven50 this past Friday was as unassuming as the club's unadorned, raw-brick Crescent Avenue facade.
The building, the back and lower half of the historic Atlanta Women's Club social hall, was once home to nightspots Axys and Petrus until a fire shut down the latter. Now the city's burning for sophisticated establishments again, and that's where eleven50 comes in.
Of course, eleven50's public entrance doesn't look so sophisticated. No, it looks like black iron stairs leading down to black double doors. Except for the velvet rope, you wouldn't know anything was happening behind the undistinguished doors. Maybe that's why the teeming masses packed into the Martini Club's courtyard across the street didn't seem interested in what lay beneath. Few people came to ask what was behind door number one. No one was searching for the hidden prize.
The lobby of eleven50 is the backstage of a former 1920s theater. Towering red brick, lit by huge torch-like sconces, surrounds you. A few chairs dot the path to scaffolding that appears to lead to the outside wall.
Once past the front desk, however, eleven50 takes shape: the shape of numerous curves. You enter stage right onto deeply stained wood floors. On the floor level are black vinyl benches that slither along the ramp walls. Little obsidian tables and triangular chairs flank the benches. Hugging the walls of the raised level are 10-foot-tall semicircular booths, gray and textured like your favorite raincoat, the kind whose surface is etched with little peaks and valleys, begging you to run your fingernails across them chalkboard-style.
A bar forms the back of this room, pointing toward the stage. Surrounding the stage, technobeams and small speakers project a sweeping ultraviolet ambiance — muted colors that don't distract from socializing, much like the deep house whose volume reverberates through the room but never raises whispers to roars.
The balcony features another bar that made movement somewhat perilous and kept the area bottlenecked the entire evening. Still above that, a glassed-in booth offered a Philips Arena-type spectator's view where the kings (and queens) of the hill can gaze down at the social games below.
For a space destined to host some rather in-demand events (such as Sasha this Saturday, Oct. 28), eleven50 seems extremely small. But just on the other side of the wall, there's a reprieve — a courtyard whose centerpiece is a long rectangular pool full of fountainheads, where another bar and another vibe altogether can be found. Considering only a fence separates the courtyard and Crescent Avenue, it was amazingly peaceful. Through a window at one end you could actually see the hustle and bustle through a waterfall.
Back inside at the far end of the club, a black-and-white-tiled art gallery offered momentary distraction with passive-aggressive images lit by candles and track lighting.
Eleven50 reminds me not of a nightclub but of something out of a David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick film, a stylized setting where the elite can sit and sip cocktails while something sophisticated, sinister or silly takes place, but where no oddity seems out of place. Is relaxing the word? Definitely distancing.
As I sat to the side and scribbled notes, a group of three men walked by. One of them leaned to me, pointed toward the entrance and whispered to me, "Please don't tell the people across the street about this."
What's there to say? It's too soon to tell how eleven50 will fare, hiding in plain view with an events schedule mixed between raves (albeit the 21+ type), plays and film screenings. Being a former theater, I guess, the show's the thing, no matter what they attempt to tackle. Watching eleven50's run looks to be good.