Orpheus club opens in Little Italy

January 11, 1991|By Mike Giuliano


Where: 1001 E. Pratt St.

Hours: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. As of Feb. 1, the hours will be 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesdays to Sundays.

Credit cards: MC, V.

Call: 563-1416.

Think about Little Italy and you naturally think about all of the restaurants that are somehow crammed into that tiny row-house neighborhood. You don't think about nightclubs in that part of town because there aren't any, or at least there weren't before. Orpheus opened there with the new year.

Orpheus may not be large, but hey, this is miniature-scaled Little Italy we're talking about. Located at the site of a defunct bar at Pratt and Exeter streets, Orpheus made over the former Club Mitchell into what promises to be a distinctive dance club.

"This is a stopping point for people between the Inner Harbor and Fells Point," says club spokesman Bubbles. He notes that Orpheus is aiming for an upwardly mobile clientele -- "people who are a little older and more experienced at going out. As a club it's not gay or straight, but is just a place where people can get together to dance."

Because this is a private club, casual nightlifers could easily walk past it without quite realizing why the plain black facade is pulsating from the heavy-duty dance mix inside. There is no exterior signage. It's the kind of place where you knock and hope to be admitted. And frankly, the private club liquor license means they don't have to admit you if they don't like your looks. So it doesn't hurt to flip through the ads in Interview magazine before dressing for the night.

For the 500 people who plunked down $30 to become charter members, it costs $4 to get in. Guests (including members of the general public who pass visual inspection) may get in for $6.

Once inside, the main attraction is the two-story-high space with a state of the art light and sound system. There is also a wall doubling as a video screen. Those up on their Greek mythology (( will recall that Orpheus was wonderfully gifted at strumming his lyre and singing. The dance mix here relies more on drum machines than on the lyre, but the eternal entertainment verities remain the same, right?

In terms of design, this club will introduce many local clubgoers to the deconstructivist architecture that has replaced postmodernism as the movement of the moment. Just consider the industrial-looking metal staircase leading up to a second-level balcony, and the wire mesh railing screens that keep you safely above the dance floor action. Or check out the metal sheets used to cover bar tops and bathroom sinks alike. Welcome to the '90s.

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