The University of Tennessee campus has never been a particularly easy place to park. But then again, what major college campus is? Tow-truck drivers lurk like bottom-feeding catfish, rightfully earning their living, but menacing poor college students by forcing them to pay cash after walking blocks to an ATM at 3 a.m. Eventually, I found a spot near McAlisters Deli.
There is something about a college campus in the summer. The patios are full, and music spews out on the sidewalk as many spots have their windows and garage doors open. For the middle of June, the strip was bumping. Well, as bumping as it could be for a night where it was easy to find a parking space. School was out for the summer, and Alice Cooper had just played at the Tennessee Theatre. Coincidence? I think not. No more Mr. Nice guy, readers. OK, I am starting to annoy myself; back to this week's mission.
My target was a new dance club that had just opened on the Strip (a.k.a. Cumberland Avenue), Noxim Lounge.
Noxim Lounge is an extension of www.noxim.net, an entertainment e-zine that acts as a sort of Maxim for Knoxville with lovely ladies you would find out on the town posing it up from page to page. Noxim Lounge is a petite cocktail bar and dance club illuminated internally with warm red lights. Joe Davis, one of the managers, greeted me in all black. In fact, everyone was in all black except the ladies behind the bar.
To the right as I walked in the door was DJ Jake James spinning some Ludacris, which flowed seamlessly into a touching number called "Rack City" by a young man named Tyga. Thanks to Shazam for Android helping me learn the name of the tune and artist so I could add it to my "Song To Play At Grandma's Birthday Party" playlist. She always appreciates a good ole "hippity hop" number.
It was the second night the club was open and interested prospective patrons kept craning toward the open doors trying to figure out what was going on in this space that formerly housed Losers. (Writer's note: Please, for the love of the good Lord himself, don't make the same mistake when naming YOUR bar. ... Losers, really?)
Inside things were beginning to pick up when I met the director of operations, Seth Barber. We took a walk to the neighboring (and what I soon learned to be complementing) establishment next door, Nori Sushi. Seth got very intense when describing the goal and direction of the venue. After talking to him for a few minutes I had a good idea of what they were going for.
Noxim is a place where you are going to find a level of class stepped up, like one of the downtown clubs would be, not like your typical dollar draft Cumberland Avenue watering hole. Noxim intends to enforce a dress code to keep it semi-formal and to become a destination for ladies and fellas at UT to come when they want to dress to the nines. Nori Sushi also played into this, offering late-night sushi to the club's patrons.
DJ Jake James, aka DJ Ketchup, kept the tunes spinning as I came back in the bar. Seating along the walls was posh and well staged.
Although not a big establishment, I found Noxim to be a great place to start or end the night. I could see grabbing a cocktail before going to see something at the Tennessee Theatre or Bijou. I could also see it being the place to go before heading home after a great date night that ended in some dancing and late-night sushi dinner. I love when people try something different with their nightclubs and/or bars.
The energy and passion to which Seth talked about the vision of the club told me that the attention to detail would be there, but that also this could be a place that evolves as its clientele dictates the direction of its final format. Good to see something new opening on the Strip. Check it out tonight.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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