Nothing kills a buzz more than the flash of bright lights washing over the heads of patrons. In most cases, these most unflattering lights reveal wasted, sweaty, crazy-eyed people teetering around a slippery dance floor, accompanied by some enormous and very threatening bouncer hollering: "Put yer drinks down and git the hell out."
For the majority of us who embark on our weekend festivities between nine and ten pm, if not later, the party usually ends as quickly as it starts. It's as if once we begin to really get going, the lights are on and our credit cards stressfully retrieved. Thus we are left to stagger out into the night, searching desperately for the next "late-night" destination which is, almost indefinitely, some unfortunate soul's home.
Unlike Vegas, where "after-hours" fall somewhere around noon, San Diego clubs, with the obligatory 2am shut-down time, which actually means 1:30am for most venues (or even 1am for some), leave patrons wondering what to do with the four spare hours before the Silver Fox, Scolari's or the other miscellaneous dives scattered around the area open their doors to the lost and wayward at 6am. Yet, a few clubs - make that, two clubs - in San Diego are pushing the limits on that 2am kick-out call, Minus One Lounge within the Keating Hotel being one of them.
Minus One has begun what Travis Newman, director of food and beverage of the Keating Hotel, dubs "late night," not to be confused with "after hours." Newman, a Las Vegas import, four year associate of Pure Management Group, and a big time veteran of the nightlife industry, was recently flown in by the Keating with collaborator and close friend, DJ Mike White in tow, to oversee and modify Minus One's blooming nightlife and late night scene in the Gaslamp.
For the last several months Minus One has relieved guests of the fear that can only arise from the 2am bright lights and the abrupt cut-off of pulsating, thrill lingering tunes from DJ Mike White, as the show must go on. And, it will go on until 4am, only at the Keating.
Unfortunately for fans of Vegas venues or New York nights, the alcohol policy for Minus One's "late night" sessions will continue to maintain city standards. "The only thing going over the counter is bottled water," Newman explains. Though guests can indulge in any virgin variety of their favorite cocktails, alcohol, like any other venue in San Diego, will not be served in Minus One after two am.
Guests should also note that, unless you are an invited guest or a member of the Keating (email@example.com), you will not be permitted entry into Minus One after 1:30am. And by member, this means the all exclusive A-list rights to the hotel, lounge and its services, like access to a private vault surrounded by Minus One's glass-encased wine storage, Vegas nightclub concierge service, and special events to name a few. So if you want to party like a celebrity, (Adriana Patridge of The Hills recently made an appearance, along with Sara Larson, model, reality star, and, well, George Clooney's ex), be sure to find a way to squeeze in the door before the cut off.
However, do not let the 2am alcohol rule or the entrance before 1:30am deter, because the one, most important element being served up beyond two is the music. DJ Mike White will keep on stirring it up all night long - even if the bartender's won't. And let's face it, after those last-call tequila shots at the bar, the only thing you'll be ready to do is dance.
Unlike most DJs in the industry, White, who began playing around with vinyl when he was 19 years old, has not stopped since and does not intend to. "I love touching vinyl," he says with an eager gleam in his eye. White is also exceptional in his devotion and connection to his crowd and will not hesitate to take a request, no matter how absurd - and anyone who has ever requested a song from a resident DJ knows, simply from the reaction, that requests are faux pas in the DJ world.
Though some DJs fear "the request" because, well, some people just have bad taste in tunes, White has the unique ability to make anything upbeat and danceable; an ability which is an extension of his positive and charismatic personality. Newman and White's relationship may as well have been founded on "the request." Newman, who used to post up inside club Noir, where both he and White worked, would text White requests, and White would dutifully play them while still maintaining the vibe. "I texted him 'Footloose,' just to see if he would do it - and he did," laughs Newman.
"I play for the crowd. I watch everything in the room, feet moving, people dancing, I know what people want to hear," White explains. With credible names under his belt, like opening for Black Eyed Peas, LL Cool J, and De La Soul and holding former residencies at Whiskey Sky in Vegas, Los Angeles and New York City, knowing what people want to hear is undoubtedly White's craft.
White draws inspiration from his musical upbringing and credits his parents for his diverse taste and passion for music. White mixes everything from down tempo to soul to break beats to mash ups, and everything in between and all, miraculously, in one session that only gains steam into the wee hours of the night. This innovative lineup proves White is a classic in DJ history - and with backgrounds in modeling and acting, he isn't afraid to get down behind the tables either. "He's a performer," notes Newman, "and vinyl is his instrument."
Though White is still somewhat a "resident" of Las Vegas, San Diego has found a way to steal his heart and White will be giving up the city of sin and "the best DJ job in America," for the city of sun and a residency at Minus One, from 8pm to 4am, Friday and Saturday at the Keating Hotel. "I love San Diego," he says, with undeniable enthusiasm, "I feel rejuvenated."
Insider Tip: Though there may be a few clubs in San Diego that might allow guests to linger past the 2am cut-off, 2028 Hancock and Minus One are officially offering late night hours to guests who need to cool off, dance off or chill out before the departure homeward.
2028 Hancock, which was Club Montage before it became quasi-straight, closes its doors around 4am and is a great place for the hungry and the thirsty. The late night Fridays are hosted by Giant, a company based in LA, which brings the musical talent to the table for anyone who falls into any category of that colorful rainbow to rock out as much as possible into the twilight of the late night.
Check out nightlife photos from Stay Saturday at Minus One here.