Jug Faces Dance Club Competition



At Colgate, there are few social options on nights and weekends. Greek life, the Jug and, for the 21-and-over crowd, Nichols and Beal, Risky Business and the Hour Glass are all there seems to be.

But a new option has recently opened up downtown. Phoenix is a full-functioning nightclub in the basement of the Palace Theatre located right across from the Jug on Utica Street. With enough time and student support, it will provide students a regular music scene that has been, for the most part, nonexistent at Colgate.

Phoenix has been open for two Friday nights so far, September 3 and 10, and will be open again October 22nd and 29.

Phoenix was created, and is currently run, by Colgate professors and members of the Colgate DJ Club, Protoculture. The Colgate professors are the musicians in the band Dangerboy: Associate Professor of Mathematics Aaron Robertson, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Frank Frey and Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology and Director of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Scott Kraly.

The project began when Kraly approached Director of the Palace Patricia Von Mechow with the idea of using the room formerly referred to as “the basement” of the Palace as a new nightclub venue for Colgate students.

Von Mechow, who has been the director of the Palace for three years, immediately liked the idea and thinks that Phoenix is truly “new and awesome.”

Von Mechow stayed up late Friday night, working and talking with people at the entrance of Phoenix. She is devoted to helping Phoenix become a place for students to come together and have fun.

With Von Mechow’s support, Frey approached his research assistant, senior Tom Cuppernull, a member of Protoculture, about making something happen.

What they created is a fully-functional nightclub equipped with strobe lights and lasers. Not to mention trained and experienced DJs who are ready to give Colgate a legitimate music scene and an alternative to the usual nightlife options.

According to senior Nick Geiger, also a member of Protoculture, the group wanted to create a dance scene that is not just about coupling off. Instead, it is about everyone dancing together, jumping around and enjoying good music. For the members of Protoculture, the experience is about learning how to run a nightclub: the ins-and-outs of public relations and how to manage a successful event.

Not only does Phoenix provide Colgate students with an alternative to the Jug, it also provides a place to give aspiring DJs a chance to show off their stuff.

Both Cuppernull and Geiger express interest in DJing (in addition to their day jobs) after college.

On September 3, Phoenix’s opening night, while traffic was light at times, a total of 274 people showed up. This gives the creators of Phoenix hope that student interest will increase and attendance will improve as word gets around.

This past Friday night, September 10, Phoenix faced a perfect storm of competition: sorority rush, a frat party and a rainy night that did not encourage wandering downtown. Even so, about 80 students stopped by.

Cuppernull and Geiger emphasized that Phoenix’s success is all about getting enough people there to create a social atmosphere so that other groups will feel comfortable to join in and dance.

Phoenix has a no-alcohol policy, which presents a challenge to creating a successful weekend event. Phoenix is working to push students to overcome the stigma around non-alcoholic events and to present an appealing alternative, whether for the entire evening or for a stop along the way.

There is also the potential for holding catered events that could serve alcohol to the 21-and-over crowds, but beyond that Phoenix is prepared to make up for the lack of alcohol with incredible talent and music.

Robertson says that right now getting Phoenix on its feet seems like an uphill battle. But he, like Phoenix’s other creators, is confident that it is a place that students need and will eventually love if they give it a chance.

One of the complaints that Cuppernull heard in reaction to the advertisements for Phoenix is that “it features Colgate DJs, so it can’t really be that good.” Quite the opposite is true. Protoculture is made up of 15 to 20 DJs, six of which have personal investments and equipment. Cuppernull, for example, has DJed in multiple cities and has earned a reputation among Colgate students and graduates as a talented DJ.

“The main thing holding me back from going is the risk that I will be the only one there – if I can know that there is already a crowd there I would love to check it out,” senior Audrey Hoiles said.

With that in mind, Cuppernull and Geiger urge Colgate students to “give Phoenix a chance.” An enormous amount of thought, work and talent has gone into the venue.