Q Nightclub poised to dominate gay Seattle nightlife

by Shaun Knittel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday August 30, 2012

Q Nightclub, the 12,000-square-foot dance club set to open to the public Sept. 8 in a dramatic, converted auto rebuild space in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, is going to change what Seattle has come to expect, from services to sound equipment and lighting displays. Seattle is about to get some "New York City big-room style" dropped on it, and nightlife enthusiasts won't know what hit them.

What "hit them" will no doubt be the sound system. The owners installed a custom system from Funktion One and lighting design by SJ Lighting. It is the best-looking and sounding dance floor on Capitol Hill, otherwise known as "The Hill," Seattle's gayborhood.

Q's owners were previously deeply involved in the New York City club scene. Back in Chelsea, C Scott Smith, managing partner of Q, was a part of the creation of XL, a gay club that enjoyed a longer than average life in NYC. (That XL has nothing to do with the present XL in the Out.)

"Q will give Seattle a space that gets back to the basics of what a club should be about," Smith says. "The best DJ's on the planet, playing on the finest sound system while also having the club act as a laboratory for emerging local musical talent."

A club that has stunning interior design and lighting and provides impeccable service to its customers are also "musts," Smith added: "We want to avoid the elitist attitudes of upscale lounges with separate VIP areas, and instead provide our customers with a cohesive, immediate relationship to the DJ, music, people, and the club itself which, ultimately, is the real star here."

The Status "Q"

That is a smart move on Smith's part because Seattle -- especially LGBT Seattle -- does not vibe with the whole VIP experience. In fact, most clubbers scoff at a $5 cover charge, so bottle service is certainly out of the question.

What Smith is trying to accomplish with Q is going to be tricky, however. How does one turn a profit in a large, expensive dance club by charging the same prices as the smaller, cheaper-to-run bars on the Hill?

Smith says Q will do fine because Q will become a part of the community and, citing the sound and lighting systems, is convinced that the club will simply offer what no one else on the Hill (or the whole city for that matter) does. When Q owners first announced their intentions they did not say whether or not the new nightclub would be gay or not; instead Q officials released the vague statement, "At Q, everyone is welcome."

With less than two weeks left before they open the doors and turn on the sights and sounds, some members of the local LGBT community still say a large, expensive nightclub catering to the mixed crowd (which often means more straight women than gay men) is an unwelcome addition to the gay ghetto of Pike, Pine and Broadway. Smith, however (who is himself gay), doesn't see that as representative of the majority. "We are a Capitol Hill nightclub," he said, "And that means that everybody that is part of this neighborhood is welcome at Q."

The P’s & "Q’s" of Seattle’s New Club

Open seven days a week, Q will serve as an intimate lounge in the early evening and a full-blown nightclub later on, with the space easily convertible for patrons' comfort.

According to Q publicist Kristen Graham, "The club will be able to provide a highly flexible configuration for a vibe appealing to those coming in after work for a cocktail and conversation as much as to those showing up for a night of dancing."

In other words, the idea is to get people to come on any day of the week at various times of the evening. "Our customers can also expect a strong thematic musical connection with regard to the music we play," according to the club's owners, "as well as the live performances we feature throughout the week."

Q certainly does look good.

There is no denying that Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the award-winning firm best known recently for their Apple Stores as well as Seattle City Hall, designed the club to a "T" (or, rather, to a "Q"). Robert Miller of the Seattle office oversaw the project.

Q's bar will present a specialty cocktails and feature a vast collection of American bourbons. Smith has lived in Seattle since 2003, but is originally from Kentucky, where his family has deep ties to the huge local distillery industry, which would explain Kentucky bourbon is featured so prominently in Q.

The space can be set up as either a semi-private or private area and can accommodate up to 25 people.

Keeping it Simple

Ryan Schmitt, an experienced restaurant and bar operations specialist, has been named Q's general manager. "Our goal has always been to cultivate as broad and eclectic a customer base as possible," Smith says, "but one that has a matured and cultivated appreciation for the kind of music we want to be known for: electronic music."

For his part, Graham calls Q "a bit glam and a bit chic, but still very Seattle casual through and through, with service and presentation that will set Q apart."

That remains to be seen. Q will have to prove itself in an unforgiving market where bars and clubs close and open with alarming regularity. Seattle's gay men, however, have high hopes for Q, and everyone seems to be in agreeement that the owners seem to be starting out in the right direction.

On Sept. 8, the ownership and management at Q will present Capitol Hill with a state-of-the-art nightclub where people can congregate to to dance, drink, and then dance and drink some more. No gimmicks. No half-assed promotions for crap nobody wants. And no cast of drag queens who only stop the music and bring down the vibe.

Want to take a look inside of the "Q" Nightclub? Goto www.qcapitolhill.com and get set to fill your dance card. Located in Capitol Hill between Pike and Union at 1426 Broadway in Seattle. EDGE promises to keep you connected on the upcoming inaugural year of "Q" Nightclub.

Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist and public affairs specialist living in Seattle. His work as a photographer, columnist, and reporter has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to writing for EDGE, Knittel is the current Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News.