Taxidermy Lodge party still rocking despite club fire

Good Love may be gone, but this gig keeps groovin'

Scene: clubs, bars, nightlife

January 08, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

The Taxidermy Lodge isn't a musty wood-paneled room with lots of dead stuff on the walls.

In fact, the lodge isn't a place at all. It's the name of a dance party, and a hot one at that.

Established two years ago by poet and Maryland Institute College of Art graduate Justin Sirois, the weekly event was first held at the trendy Canton nightspot Good Love, where the Orlando, Fla., native worked as a bartender on Monday nights.

Sirois brought in a few local DJs and promoted the happenings, which, at first, were small and low-key gatherings.

"I thought it was gonna be me and a couple friends just hanging out and enjoying some music," said the 24-year-old.

To his surprise, the laid-back sessions quickly began to attract the area's club set and college-age crowd.

And within months, the Taxidermy Lodge, its name created by Sirois as a ribbing to other local clubs that hold pretentious or nonsensically titled dance nights, was known as a come-as-you-are event that was fast becoming one of the city's best - and only - early-week nightlife options.

But last spring, just as the Lodge and its array of resident DJs had begun to secure a following, Good Love suffered a damaging fire and operations were shut down.

Undaunted by the setback, Sirois looked for another venue and moved the event to the Talking Head, a tiny punk-rock watering hole.

The new space, virtually hidden from view on a Mount Vernon side street, had a decidedly unpolished, anti-scene atmosphere.

Would the transplanted Taxidermy Lodge hold on to its popularity?

A recent visit to the Davis Street bar revealed that the change in location hasn't put a damper on the fun.

The crowd of almost 100 scenesters, both new Lodge fans and patrons from the Good Love days, included many who believe the Talking Head's living-room style furnishings and no-frills thrift store decor complement the come-one, come-all vibe that Sirois promotes.

Matthew Fischer said the Lodge nights, which are usually free of charge, are attractive because they offer respite from sometimes rowdy or snobbish conditions at other local venues.

"I've never seen a fist fight here, and aside from the many scenesters here, there really isn't any social pressure," said the 24-year-old Hamilton native.

Longtime Lodge-goer Lindy Eisen also noted the club's ubiquitous greasy-haired art school students and mod-styled indie rocker patrons, but said that any negative or cooler-than-thou vibes are quickly squashed by the shabby-chic bar's laid-back atmosphere.

"It's very low on the pretention level," Eisen quipped.

Sirois agreed and said that peaceful partying among a motley mix - from a glossy-lipped woman sporting a pink sweater and matching scarf, to gutter punks in studs and skull caps - is what makes the event stand out from other local club events.

The Lodge DJs' unpredictable musical combinations, he added, are welcomed by the diverse collective.

When one resident mixmaster flipped from Madonna's "Material Girl" to the Jackson 5's "ABC," the crowd contorted with wild and funky movements that were nothing like the spastic Jagger-esque chicken dances that would be thrown down next, when David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" hit the turntable.

Early punk, glam-metal and commercial hip-hop songs were all well-received by the dance-crazed crowd, whose approval of a song could usually be gauged by the intensity of their excited arm waves and spirited head shakes.

Each Monday, from behind the bar, between fetching cases of beer and chatting with regulars, Sirois watches the groups' interaction and contortions with both surprise and amusement.

"I never thought it would turn into this," he said. "People love it. ... the kids just go crazy."

The Talking Head is at 203 E. Davis St. Taxidermy Lodge is an 18 and over event. For information, call 410-962-5588 or visit www.talkinghead

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