Quad, Spring4th leave Midtown
Nightlife institution moves south of I-20
The block of former office spaces between 714 and 728 Spring St. N.W. has had many names over the past decade. Sitting next to a former Arby's, now Starbucks, Spring4th was initially christened a community center for art shows, S&M events, and private rentals in 2005. With its lack of signage or other easily identifiable characteristics, other than its ornate red entryway, the space at 728 has long held a speakeasy-like mystique. As it evolved into an after-hours party destination for local DJs, clubbers, and event promoters, it became known simply as Red Door. "We initially opened this place so we could have art parties and private parties," says Elvis Thompson, co-owner and general manager since 2005. "We had to start doing more and more parties just to afford being here," he continues. "As we threw more parties we became more popular, so we started looking at expanding. Luckily, it was the spot right next door that had everything we wanted."
This expansion into the former Club NV was dubbed Quad, which soon rose to dominate Atlanta's electronic dance music (EDM) scene in recent years. After some initial stumbles in 2010, including a poorly attended Three 6 Mafia Halloween show, the new venue worked with outside promoters, bringing in dubstep favorites such as Skrillex, Zeds Dead, and Flux Pavilion, all the while establishing itself as a go-to nightlife destination on Tuesdays and weekends. But with development sweeping through the area, Quad and the rest of the Spring4th Complex is moving south of I-20 under a yet-to-be-decided new name.
The club's place in the city's nightlife history is undeniable. "We couldn't figure out what we were doing right, but we just kept doing it," says Rick Day, who co-owns the club with his son Chris Day, Thompson, and Jonathan "Oreo" Harris.
Quad's presence on Atlanta's nightlife scene continued with a phoenix-like ascent. But when Rick was told by one of Quad's regulars that he'd been approached by National Geographic's TV show "Drugs, Inc.," who wanted to do an episode about the drug Molly, it seemed that trouble was afoot. "I was literally on the floor busting people — looking for people making plays," Rick says. "It was like plugging holes in a dam. Everybody said, 'Don't do %22Drugs, Inc.%22. You don't want to be associated with that.' It's a fucking rave club, people know that drugs are associated with it. I'm all about honesty with drugs and legalization."
In October 2012, a fight broke out at Quad resulting in a fatal shooting near the club. With business declining, Rick and his partners decided the Spring4th Complex had run its course and closed the club in November 2013. But when the landlord made the owners "a deal we couldn't refuse," they reopened the venue in April 2014 with Chris Day, Harris, and Thompson managing day-to-day operations.
In July 2014, Kingdom Rave held its Bashment Block Party throughout the Spring4th Complex and on the street in front of the venue. Thunderstorms and poor attendance plagued the party. Rick says the event left the venue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. "We never recovered from that financially," he says. "We've been struggling and struggling."
The following month, the "Molly Madness" episode of "Drugs, Inc." aired. In addition to footage of Rick and a security guard confronting a raver with Molly at a Quad event in 2013, the documentary features additional footage of a raver buying and snorting Molly.
In 2015, a scuffle broke out at the club resulting in another nearby shooting, this time leaving a man paralyzed.
The venue has since gone through another unexpected evolution, with the EDM scene it helped establish migrating to other venues. In its place, Quad found some success hosting hip-hop nights and gay-friendly events. Red Door was rebranded as Legacy, hosting Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment matches and occasional goth and trance parties.
Recently, the club owners' lease was bought out by their landlord, who sold the property to make way for a mixed-use development that will include 300 student dorms and retail spaces on the street level next summer. Chris Day, Harris, and Thompson are partnering with the Campbellton Road Community Center, a former car dealership turned event space, to move former Quad/Legacy events there beginning with an AWE event Jan. 10. With this new development, Rick, now based in Ellijay and working as the regional manager for Phantom Fireworks, is stepping down as co-owner. "They're going to start doing huge outdoor shows at the new location, as well as other shows," he says. "Chris is taking some of the assets and moving that over there. But it's the end of Spring4th, it's the end of Quad. Whatever they call it, the bar equipment, the walk-in cooler, the sound system will all move over there."
For a venue that never set out to be the party powerhouse it became, it's hard to say what the future holds as it continues to evolve. Surviving various setbacks, it seems likely that at least some EDM and fetish fans and hip-hop heads will spring for what this next phase has to offer. Whatever the case, it's sure to be as interesting as the previous decade.