A new 18-and-older spot is a mixed bag

On Nightlife

August 10, 2006|By SAM SESSA

With Hammerjack's and Bar Baltimore down for the count and Iguana Cantina pledging to end college nights this month, there are fewer clubs for 18- to-20- year-olds.

Enter Club Malibu, a new 18-and-older spot on the outskirts of Canton. After one great and one nasty night there, I'm torn over the place. It's trashy, but that's no surprise -- so are a lot of other clubs like it. Places like Club Malibu are good for three things: meeting people, dancing and hookups. The two times I went, there wasn't much of any of those.

I first went a couple Sundays ago, to see what Teen Night looked like. Besides the bartender, my girlfriend was the only woman in the place, which made me a little uneasy. One whole side of the bar in the center of the club was empty, so we grabbed a couple of stools. Someone had replaced the fluorescent ceiling lights with black lights, so anyone wearing a white shirt glowed. A row of about a dozen big guys sat on the opposite side and stared at us. My uneasiness magnified.

When the bartender came our way, my girlfriend ordered a Jolly Rancher, a concoction that tasted exactly like the green apple candy. I asked for a gin and tonic, but the bartender said her soda gun was malfunctioning and it might taste funny. She made one, which did indeed taste funny, so I opted for a beer. The total, for two drinks, came to a shocking $3. Not bad.

We decided to get away from the bar for a while and shoot some pool at the nearby table. The manager jumped up, walked over and started dusting off the table for us. We thanked him and started to play. Halfway into our first game, the manager brought me a gin and tonic on the house to make up for the bad one they gave me earlier. Not bad at all.

Soon after, a fern-like plant got in the way of my girlfriend's corner shots, and the manager sent a guy over to take the plant outside. Man! I've never seen such good service.

Still, I didn't want to give the place a glowing review based on one night alone. So I returned to Club Malibu at about 11:30 p.m. last Saturday night. A group of four or five bouncers stood guard outside the door by the tiki torches. I paid the $5 cover charge and walked in.

For a Saturday night, the place was still pretty empty. The bar had a number of empty stools, and only a handful of people were on the dance floor. There were probably 40 people in all, but that didn't stop the DJ from blasting crunk hip-hop and pop even louder than last Sunday.

Two guys were working the bar, so I thought the service would be even better than before. Wrong! These guys had little to no idea what they were doing, and it was impossible to get their attention. I stared so hard my eyes hurt, but they didn't see me. I tried shouting, but the music drowned me out. I even stuffed some cash in my hand and waved it around, hoping to catch their attention, but that only drew awkward glances from girls across the bar.

After almost 10 minutes -- 30 seconds before total meltdown -- one of the bartenders sauntered over. I ordered a Coors Light ($3), and immediately pounded half of it.

When it came time for a second beer, there was only one guy behind the bar, and my heart sank. I prepared for a 20-minute wait. Thankfully, it only took another 10 minutes to flag him down. I asked for another Coors Light. He wanted $3.50 this time.

Me: "Huh?"

Bartender: "What did you pay last time?"

Me: "$3"

Bartender: "OK, then, $3."

Me: "OK ..."

After another 20 minutes or so, I finished beer No. 2 and decided the ordeal of ordering another one would be too much for me to bear. When I bounced at 12:30 a.m., the club was no more full than when I'd arrived an hour before.

So is Club Malibu really the city's new hot spot? Nah. But I might head back for Sunday night pool, when the staff are on their game.

Club Malibu is at 1301 Ponca St. Call 410-342-6333 or visit myspace.com/clubmalibu.

Xanadu to open

On Saturday, the former Club X Ultra Lounge reopens as Xanadu in the same space, 10 S. Calvert St. Management disputes caused Club X Ultra Lounge to close several months ago, according to co-owner Jay Roshko. Besides adding a new bar and changing the name, Roshko said, they aren't doing much to the place. There will still be valet parking; women won't pay cover, while men will pay $10 to get in, he said.

"It's going to be awesome," Roshko said.

Xanadu Baltimore is at 10 S. Calvert St. Call 410-528-5110 or visit xanadubaltimore.com.

New podcast

Head to baltimoresun.com/sessa and listen to my new podcast. I update it every other week with new bar reviews and nightlife advice. This week, it's on the Waterfront Hotel in Fells Point.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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