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Redeye - Marriages of people and places October 14 2004

Last week I promised to report on new beginnings, so we’ll begin with a couple of weddings. Over the past few years I’ve spent a fair amount of time at MJQ, so I guess I’ve become accustomed to some “friendly faces.” Rarely, however, do I see them outside of “work.” Sat., Oct. 9, though, I was amazed that there was anyone to open the place as the staff was celebrating the wedding of the club’s own Katherine B. and Ben L., raising the bar on making it work through the long service industry hours. Congratulations kids.

And speaking of friendly faces on the scene, well-storied scene photographer Frank Mullen also had a reception celebrating his recent vows. Frank’s been only an aperture away from the action for as long as I’ve been around these woods, and so I’m happy to see the focus on him for ?a change.

The joy can only last so long, however, before it was time to get up and go out. Only a little after 11 p.m. that same Sat., the frustration was high, as some friends and I pulled up to Aiko — part of an emerging West Buckhead collective of clubs and bars. Parking was already at a premium as the curbs were plastered with the upwardly mobile and their 'mobiles. Rolling in to the East Andrews venue we were almost stymied by not meeting the "strict dress code," but the door guy got his propers for knowing when to make an exception.

From the outside, Aiko is like a ski lodge in the throes of an ectoplasmic happening. The exterior is grayish, but the windows are swathed in gauzy white curtains, through which you can see cycling red and blue lights. The effect is reminiscent of cruising past Vision while edging down Peachtree. With both, a dull thud can be heard emanating, hinting at the club atmosphere within.

During the early evening, Aiko is a full service bar, but of a different sort. A sushi bar, Aiko's offerings are better than Ru San's, but don't be expecting epiphanies, unless you can find the meaning of life in a California roll eaten to a Eurocheese beat. Something about overcooked music just doesn't go with uncooked fish.

Post 11ish, however, the volume and tempo goes up, and people congregate more at the liquor bar. What's interesting about that bar, however, is that on both visits there has yet to be a specialty cocktail list, and for a place advertising itself as a "martini lounge" having not even a single saketini is just not going to cut it. Opting instead to pound a half-bottle of unfiltered sake in less that two minutes, our trio continued to explore.

Aiko's white washed main room acts as a well-lit atrium for self-conscious strutting. Along with the venue's own resident DJs several of Midtown's well-knowns (including J-Luv) have been lured in. The back room, however, is where the surprises lie. Underneath an array of amber globes, a lounge of inky banquettes beckons those seeking a moment of intimacy. Literally a place to look at your date in a new light, Aiko's back room is suited to indulgence, while the front suggests overindulging.

Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.