Heavy hearts for fans of Thunder Dome club

Heavy metal venue to close this month, reopen as Club Mate

February 16, 2005|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Not with a headbang, but with a whimper, the popular heavy metal nightclub Thunder Dome will close its doors at the end of this month.

The South Hanover Street venue was sold to Vu Tan Huynh, 34, of Rockville, who plans to reopen the venue as Club Mate, according to documents filed with the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City. The documents do not describe the type of club it would become.

Thunder Dome opened in September 2001 and brought in national heavy metal acts including Vince Neil from Motley Crue, Bret Michaels, a former member of Poison, and Kings X. The final concert - a 14-band blowout, though not featuring any national names - will be Feb. 27.

"I'll miss having that intimate club feel where you could see the people you worshiped," said Michael Fey, Thunder Dome's floor manager. "It is definitely the end of a short era."

Fans also expressed disappointment at the news. "It had that nice, gritty feel to it," said Chris Dolan, 37, of Dundalk. "It is sad, because there is really no place around to see national heavy metal acts."

Dolan fondly recalled hearing live music at the venue several times a week and his many forays back stage to meet the bands after they played.

Bob Schmuff, who booked the live acts for Thunder Dome, will instead bring some of the heavy metal bands to House of Rock, a club in White Marsh.

Thunder Dome was sold to Huynh for $590,000 last fall. He did not respond to repeated phone calls for comment. Hyun Kim and Hung Thanh Dinh, who are listed on documents filed with the city liquor board for the new club, also failed to respond to phone calls.

The new club is licensed to sell alcohol and provide live music. The floor plan, filed with the city liquor board, showed a stage, dance floor, lounge area and a kitchen.

Huynh previously owned Millennium Restaurant, a nightclub in Hyattsville. While he was in charge there, he was fined $2,500 by the Board of Licensing Commissioners for Prince George's County for presenting adult entertainment, including lap dances and exotic dancers, without proper licensing.

He had instead stated that the Millennium would provide ballroom dancing as entertainment.

Huynh has not applied for an adult entertainment license for Club Mate.

Sun staff writer Dan Thanh Dang and researcher Sandy Levy contributed to this article.

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