Red Maple attracts a hip crowd

DJs drawn to its classy atmosphere

Scene: clubs, bars, nightlife

May 06, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

It's not what Red Maple has, but what it doesn't that makes the nightspot stand out.

Unlike many of Charm City's clubs and bars, the tapas lounge lacks pool tables, dart boards and flat-screen TVs.

Also missing are soft-porn-and-poker video games and ashtrays (there's no smoking inside the club).

And though it won't entertain the bored and jaded, the stripped-down space -- an open, airy spot with angular booths and spartan decor -- has managed to keep alive the buzz that began at its December 2001 grand opening.

In fact, Red Maple is now considered one of Baltimore's best places for the grown-and-sexy crowd to meet and greet (without having to deal with vomitous college drinkers, curious tourists or glow-stick-waving partiers).

And the location's chilled-out, yet upscale, environment has even caught the attention of some in-demand event promoters, most notably DJ LoveGrove.

The renowned Baltimore deckman moved his 6-year-old Sonic Social event from its former home, the cavernous Sonar club, to the Charles Street lounge last fall. It was Red Maple's cool and collected environment -- one completely opposite of Sonar's high-energy dance scene -- that attracted him to the space.

"We're definitely going for a classier, older vibe," said LoveGrove, who shares the boards each week with the social's other resident, DJ Adam Auburn.

And though the change in venue meant goodbye for some of the old regulars, the relocated Thursday night event is quickly gaining a new and appreciative following.

"I love the atmosphere here. I love to be able to relax, talk to people and hear them [talk to me]," said Dorlean Lyttle, who regularly attends despite her recent move to Rockville.

Patron Romik Zadorian said the laid-back, anti-club scene keeps him coming back. "It's great. I love it," he said, while leaning against the modern bar.

Accolades aside, the ever-ambitious LoveGrove is still trying to better his offering by reaching more people.

To bring in a broader audience -- those outside Red Maple's stable of scenesters -- he recently lowered the prices on the night's drink specials and this summer will be host to a number of nationally known DJs, including Eighteenth Street Lounge artist Ursula 1000.

"The next [few] months are going to be really big for us," he said.

Red Maple is at 930 N. Charles St. The Sonic Social runs from 10 p.m. till close. every Thursday. This is a 21-and-over event. There is no cover except when guests perform. Call 410-547-0149 or visit www.sonicsoul.com or www.930redmaple.com.

For more club events, see Page 39.

Events

As LoveGrove noted, the coming months will be chock-full of notable happenings.

Here's who will be spinning at this summer's Sonic Social events:

May 20: Dan Soda (Groove District, DC) and De Rigueur (Foreign Agents /ESL Music, D.C.), $5

June 17: Ursula 1000 (ESL Music/Fort Knox Recordings, NYC), $7

July 15: Q-Burn's Abstract Message (8th Dimension Records, Orlando), $5

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