The Devil's Danceteria

Stakes in hand, Kreme and Jett raid the glamorous new Goth-Romance club Tranzylvania

For my chedda, the most creative cats and kittens in P-town's clubland belong to this city's Goth-trance underworld. The playas and playettes of the hip-hop scene may dress fly, and the Scottsdale party people may look like they stepped out of a catalogue for Abercrombie and Bee-ahtch, but they don't spend the time and effort on their duds that the "Bela Lugosi's Dead" set does, or lose themselves in role-playing like the "I-can't-believe-they-canceled-Buffy" crowd. I mean, even if you don't know Vlad the Impaler from World Wrestling Entertainment's Undertaker, you have to give it up for anyone with the huevos to wear black year-round in the frying pan of the PHX.

Of course, there's more to being a Goth than a fascination with things dark. I ain't gonna front and tell you I know everything about the Valley's vast, subterranean cult o' the macabre. Moreover, there's plenty of overlap with other scenes, whether they be fetish, industrial or noise. But until Palazzo's Tranzylvania opened a few weeks back, wedged between Club Dwntwn and Amsterdam on Central, just a stone's throw away from Circles, these alt-nightlife adherents were stuck with two or three venues with less-than-slammin' specs. We're talkin' 'bout sweaty, raunchy funk-holes, the kind the Jettster and I love to frequent when we're achin' to dip our wicks (hers a strap-on, natch) in the gutter. But the cloacal eau de Cologne of the sewer gets old after a while, and you start to hanker for an Eyes Wide Shut-meets-Queen of the Damned sort of ambiance. Enter Steven Rogers' Tranzylvania, which jumps off every Friday night inside Palazzo.

Tranzylvania is one part Interview With the Vampire, one part Merovingian's "Hel Club" from The Matrix Revolutions. Travertine floors. Gargoyles. Fixtures that look like naked angels or sphinxes. A huge bar of carved wood and black marble. And a second-story, New Orleans-style catwalk from which a select few can monitor the frenzied moves of the dancers below. From the ceiling hangs a crystal chandelier, and to the right of the dance floor are tables and chairs hidden in the darkness. Out back is an immense concrete patio, and in the rear, on the second floor, is a VIP section and a couple of hidden rooms. Rogers, who owns the entire block of clubs from Amsterdam to Club Dwntwn, is understandably proud of his latest creation.

"Palazzo actually opened two years ago, but then we had a fire, so we rebuilt it," says Rogers, a pleasant gent with sleepy eyes who's dressed very casually, not at all like the Goth pimp finery of his clientele. "This one in particular has been a work of love. A lot of it I actually did myself. It's not like there were a lot of subcontractors. All of the concrete and the molds, we did."

During the rest of the week, Rogers hires out Palazzo for corporate events, weddings, you name it. But on Friday nights, he turns the joint over to Satan's kiddies, and lets them run wild.

"This night is my Gothic-Romance-trance night," he tells the J-unit and me. "A hybrid of the Goth scene and dark trance. Most of the Goth clubs you go to are black-painted fossils. I like the dichotomy of this crowd with this kind of architecture. The club business is the only one I know where after you build the facility, then you get to do social architecture. The trick is getting the crowd you want. "

"So how did you get them?" asks the bi-lovin' Carrie-Anne Moss.

"I'd go to the art walk, and to some of the more Gothic galleries, and just start handing out fliers. That's how I got my 'core' of scenesters. They really like the club, and especially what happens at midnight.

"What you'll see tonight is what I live for," Rogers intones dramatically. "It's a little bit like a scene change at The Phantom of the Opera."

After showing us around, Rogers rushes off to attend to last-minute details, while we hightail it to the bar for a couple of Rockstars and Stoli. There, who do we run into but Simon Rohrich, the dood whose enmity we first earned last fall during the whole Black and Tan controversy. As fate would have it, the crowd pushes us together so we can't ignore each other. Suddenly, Simon extends a muscular mitt, and says something to me about a "truce." Well, fuck me and call me Popeye!

"I understand you have a job to do," Simon comments nonchalantly.

"Hey, truce sounds coolio to me, Big Poppa, let's drink on it, and let New Times pay the tab!" I exclaim, with a smile as big as the crack of my ass, while bellying up to the bar. Simon snares a Coke and vodka, while I stick to the Rockstar, which, oddly, seems to be glowing green in the dark.

Simon and I exchange pleasantries as the Jettster ogles some satanic sluts nearby. I notice that it's almost midnight. The place is plunged into inky blackness, someone flips the switch on the UV lights, and sexy, fluorescent murals spring to life on all of Tranzylvania's walls while the chandelier turns deep purple and spins above us. Apparently, it was the UV light that was turning the Rockstar-vodkas the color of radioactive uranium.

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