Club 9 makes staff, image changes

Club 9, a new nightclub on Ninth Street, has recently dealt with security and public image issues which club managers felt had impeded growth of the new club.

One of the biggest problems confronting the club since the start of the school year has been management issues. When Club 9 first opened, it was under the management of professional security guards that were hired specifically for the club. The guards were described by club owner Adrian Taylor as "overbearing and much too aggressive." They would check a student's identification two or even three times a night and treated the students in what club managers Michael Ruth and Taylor called an unfriendly and strict manner.

Although Taylor had multiple meetings with security guards about their conduct toward club patrons, especially students, the problem persisted.

"Clubs are supposed to have a relaxed atmosphere. It's hard to feel that way when there are more security guards on the dance floor than people," said freshman Ross Katz.

All of the original security guards were fired about a month and a half ago and replaced with Duke upperclassmen whom Taylor described as "competent in following legal regulations, but more natural when it comes to handling students and security." Their job is viewed more as customer service, as their main objective is to keep with the laid-back atmosphere that Taylor hopes to promote.

Although Duke students manage the club as the new security guards, a professional bouncer from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill still continues to check identifications at the door, as it is regulated by the Alcohol Law Enforcement.

"[If I]could send one message to the Duke community, it is that the problem that Club 9 had previously was recognized and completely taken care of," Ruth said.

Likewise, the club has recently been issuing flyers to freshmen that advertise "new, friendlier management," as well as going out of their way to advertise their new image to the entire campus in general.

Despite the efforts of the management at Club 9 to cover their past as best they can, it seems that recovery from such an incident will take a little longer than they had expected for things to return to normal. The club, which has been in business for about six months, opened the weekend of graduation just before Duke students headed home for the summer. From a club manager's perspective, Club 9 is still in the "new club" phase, although it seems to slowly be working itself out of the genre. Taylor, the owner of Bakus and the club, has been an active part of Club 9's development ever since he purchased the property.

"We're beginning to move past being a new club and the word is getting around the Duke community. We still have the excitement of being a new club behind all the events that we hold, but we are beginning to feel more established," Taylor said.

For a while, Club 9's location on 9th street was beginning to feel like "that place" (as expressed so eloquently in an old "Seinfeld" episode). Everyone can identify with "that place" - a piece of property where the businesses go up and down faster than you can keep track, and each new business seems especially promising, and yet seems to fail quicker than the one before it.

In past years, the location on 9th street has been the home of Cafe Diablo, Mugshots, and now Club 9. Taylor came across the future home of Club 9 toward the end of Mugshot's short lived life. "Mugshots wasn't well kept, and had kind of a dark and dingy look to it. My first gut reaction was to bring more light into the area. The past energy and spirituality had been so dark, and I wanted to sever any ties with the old bar." Updating the club was a difficult problem to tackle, but in a mere two and a half months, Taylor was able to transform the old Irish pub into a club that is both "eclectic and modern, and yet manages to hold a 'retro' appeal at the same time," as Taylor describes the club. Club 9 is almost a completely different place from what Mugshots used to be; the transformation from an interconnected Irish pub to a classier restaurant and a night club is a noticeably significant change. Michael Ruth, a Duke sophomore, is the new general manager of the club and spent last summer helping to manage European clubs while he was abroad. The decor of Club 9, as well as its design, closely follow that of European clubs. The focus of the club is most definitely the stylist alternative atmosphere: Taylor makes sure to add a new, funky renovation to the club each month, as he wants the club perpetually interesting and entertaining. Art from the community is also featured throughout the club, giving it a certain amount of personality and comfort.


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