Scene: Next Door
Part of the Phoenix-like revival of Hotel Street, this hip new club is thriving and expanding.
A drunk staggers toward us, his body listing at the kind of angle usually associated with rough seas, not sidewalks. Two men are digging through the trash in front of Maria Bonita Mexican restaurant, hoping for leftover enchiladas. But just a few paces up, there's a line of trendy, in-the-know clubgoers, eager to squeeze past the bouncer at Next Door. Welcome to Saturday night in the new downtown Honolulu.
|photo: Sergio Goes|
Next Door is run by three partners: Sergio Goes, Chris Kahunahana and Miguel Innis. Innis is seasoned in club management and recently ran a dance club and an entertainment booking agency in Las Vegas. A filmmaker and photographer, Goes runs the nonprofit film organization Cinema Paradise with Kahunahana, and they had been looking for an independent venue for their Cinema Paradise Independent Film Festival. Goes says that he eyed the space for Next Door for almost a year, attracted by the interior's 30-foot height. The building had been empty for 10 years and had no plumbing or electricity; it had last been a porn video venue.
"We felt that Honolulu had a niche for a place that plays quality music, the kind of dance and hip hop music that you'd hear in New York, London or São Paulo," says Goes. Their resulting club opened in late June, and has now increased from two nights a week to six. Movies are shown Monday through Wednesday, while music takes the spotlight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. "We're calling it a concert hall/cinema lounge," says Goes.
When the club opened, it featured a minimalist style–bare light bulbs and big, open spaces. But by New Year's Eve, the owners plan to have added a mezzanine, an upstairs lounge and bar and a rooftop deck, as well as upgraded the sound system and installed full air conditioning.
On a recent visit to Next Door, we found a crowd of mid-20- and 30-somethings, dressed in tank tops, flouncy miniskirts and trendy jeans. We watched as DJ Ross One, a visiting artist from New York City's Butter, mixed records, warming up an already packed crowd. Admission runs $10 to $20 and drinks start at $5 for a beer.
Next Door seems to be a perfect fit for its location. "Chinatown is a diamond in the rough," says Goes. "I've seen this neighborhood try to change in the past, but this time there's a solid transformation. I think it's going to change very fast."