Brick back

Posted on 19 Oct 2009 at 6:13pm
By RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

You can’t keep a good club down. Following this summer’s shut-down, The Brick returns in a new location — and a new attitude

BRICK 2.0
The Brick and Joes’s Place,
2525 Wycliff Ave., Ste. 210.
Grand opening Nov. 20 at 8 p.m.
BrickDallas.com.

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ONE BRICK AT A TIME | Brick/Joe’s owner Howard Okon moved from the old space on Maple to the strip mall on Wycliff next to Sal’s, Oishii and Dickey’s. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

How do you open up a whole new club in five weeks? Ask Howard Okon, owner of the Brick and Joe’s Place. After shutting his doors at his old Maple location in August, he did a quick-change act so that, less than three months later, the clubs are open again in entirely new digs.

"It’s been nonstop the last five weeks," Okon says. "It may seem quick to everyone but it’s been in the making for some time."

Gone is the stigma of the old Brick as a dark Levi-and-leather bar or a hip-hop club. Okon kicked the club into high gear with an ultra-modern design. Now next door to Sal’s on Wycliff Avenue, the new Brick is likely to add major buzz to the ever-evolving queer clubscape.

"We were looking at things a little differently. We didn’t want to gear this club for one crowd. Fun was missing in the clubs. We want to have that back here," he says.

The overall darkness is gone, replaced with gleaming bar counters, lights on the dance floor, 23 flat screens and perhaps the most innovative stage in Dallas.

Okon is an architect by day. He designed the exciting new interior of the club with ample standing room and traffic flow, but his stage is genius.

"It was so hard to explain to people. I’d draw it out and no one could understand. But it can really change the aspect of the club," he says.

The stage is an elevated room divider with the dance floor on one side and a full bar on the other (or you can consider the bar Joe’s Place and the other side the entire Brick club). Niftily designed, garage-type doors can close off the other side for certain shows or create a certain ambience in the club. Its versatility lends it to host a variety of shows that both sides can enjoy.

"We’re offering something different here. People aren’t bar hopping as much anymore. Whether it’s the economy or not, people are just sticking to one place. We want to be a worthwhile place."

Which is likely because it already has a lot going for it. It’s easily accessible, it has a parking lot and offers valet. The businesses around the Brick close by 10 so traffic shouldn’t be on top of each other. And it’s not Cedar Springs.

"I studied customers and what they want. Some places don’t change and get boring. Gay people go to straight clubs and see all these great designs and touches and want that too. Why not give it to them? It makes sense," Okon says.

He didn’t go ultralounge-y with space like sofas and weird colors. But his lit dance floor, marble-lined bathrooms and the huge digital screen all give the club an identity not found elsewhere. His numerous television screens call to mind his former venture, Moby Dick, and he kept the disco ball from the Brick. But as a whole, it steps up the scene.

His large digital screen is an exciting addition to the club. Text messages can be sent to the screen to reach out to the cute guy across the bar or tell a friend "happy birthday." Lights on the screen can move to the music as well. The Brick is officially high-tech.

But mostly, its redo is a plus for the club scene and raises the bar — figuratively and literally.

"We just want to let the community know this is something for them and to raise expectations. I think they are going to be shocked when they come in, but the timing is right. Let them be shocked," he says.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 20, 2009.

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