Hip-hop Lives in … Greensboro?
In a lot of communities, hip-hop is seen as the scourge of nightlife, with neighbors and residents predicting the arrival of gang members, noise complaints and violence when any hip-hop-focused venue arrives. Even in major nightlife markets like Las Vegas, venues promoting an upscale hip-hop focus are seemingly a target for big corporations, and Poetry Nightclub and its on-going litigation with Caesars Palace and the owners of the Forum Shops mall is a perfect example. So what makes veteran club owner Paul Talley think Greensboro, N.C., will be any different?
While Talley got his nightlife start in Myrtle Beach, first with his brother at Atlantis Nightclub and then with his own foray into the business with Club Zero, he has made a name for himself in the Greensboro area with three successful venues: Inferno, The Comedy Zone and Arizona Pete’s. Now the 42-year-old father of three is making an attempt to unshackle hip-hop from its gnarly reputation with Lotus Lounge, a 10,000-square-foot venue that makes it Greensboro’s largest nightclub. It’s located in the historic South Elm neighborhood, and yes, it will play strictly hip-hop music.
Hip-hop doesn’t have a successful history in Greensboro; nearly a decade ago, another nightclub veteran tried a similar path to club success, but Bill Kennedy’s Joker’s 3 was shut down by city officials after reports of violence, drug use and gunfire that resulted in a patron being shot inside the venue. Club Rain, another hip-hop-focused venue located within close proximity to Lotus Lounge has been making a go of it, but local reports indicate sporadic crowds and limited success. For Talley, he welcomes the competition and believes his venue will attract an untapped audience with two large rooms, multiple bars, 22 glass chandeliers, 40-plus televisions and, of course, a music format that will range from Run DMC to Kanye West and everything in between.
Talley isn’t coming alone — he has brought with him an army of 20 bouncers and a strict dress code that doesn’t allow bandanas, baggy jeans, jerseys or work boots. While he admits that operating a hip-hop club with a strict dress code is always a fine line, he adamantly declares it has nothing to do with race. Refreshingly, Talley seems to care less about the background or ethnicity of the people coming into the venue; instead the bottom line is just that: the bottom line. “It has everything to do with ROI,” Talley told local reporters last week. “It’s all about economics.”