A smoke-and drunk-free night out

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October 4, 2004 // UPDATED 4:13 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Ellen P. Gabler
Ellen P. Gabler

Meet someone to take home to Mom at Club 3 Degrees.

Some call it a miracle -- a Warehouse District club that's traded booze and bad boy rappers for coffee drinks and the "Good Word," all the while building one of the most impressive music venues in the Twin Cities.

At Club 3 Degrees, local and national Christian bands rock it out with hardcore punk, traditional gospel music and everything in between. You can dance and hang out with your friends, rather than worrying about peeling sloshed folks off of them.

What's hot

OK, think the Fine Line crossed with Escape Ultra Lounge -- a truly cool music venue with the sleek sophistication of an upscale club. That's 3 Degrees.

As one of the only all-Christian clubs in the nation, and the only one in a major downtown, 3 Degrees pulls in top Christian musicians like Sara Renner, Billy Steele, Pillar and Project 86. Up-and-coming local bands also get a chance to shine with an annual regional band tournament and live music three nights each week. And after 11 on Saturday nights, a DJ gets the crowd dancing with house, rap and hip-hop music, Christian-style, of course.

Not sure you want to spend a Friday night in place that reminds you of Sunday school?

Don't worry. Although ever-present at 3 Degrees, the evangelism isn't bursting out of the club's doors.

Nancy Aleksuk, one of the club's pastors, explains things best: "I think people will find that when they come in, they won't get hit over the head with a Bible, and they won't be preached at," she said. "The music is just more uplifting. It has a positive message."

What's not

Unless you know what kind of groupies flock to hear the featured band, you could spend the night with kids who are still sweating geometry and their junior prom. Other nights, middle-aged moms might yearn for their younger days while watching 20somethings shake it on the dance floor. And still other nights you could find yourself amidst a hard-core, leather-studded group.

Generally, national acts draw a more adult crowd, Aleksuk said, while some bands in the tournament have a high school or college following. Still, if you want to hang out with like-minded people, make sure you know what's going down at 3 Degrees before you sidle up to the door. So check the club's Web site in advance, www.club3degrees.com, and do a little research on that evening's performers.

The scene

An outreach program of the Living Word Christian Center, a nondenominational church with over 8,000 members in Brooklyn Park, Club 3 Degrees has only eight paid employees. The rest of the muscle comes from volunteers -- 225 of them that sweep in twice each month to sell tickets, cook food, staff the espresso bar and knock heads should anyone get out of hand. (But Pastor Nancy said that's never happened.)

Smooth, swank furniture, tiny candles and a reddish hue spread throughout all three floors of the club give 3 Degrees some serious ambiance. A downstairs lounge with two pool tables, espresso bar and caf/ is the perfect place to chill with friends. There's also a side lounge, complete with its own DJ.

The crowd

Obviously, those looking for some serious swill should look elsewhere. There is no alcohol and no smoking at 3 Degrees. Many come specifically for this reason.

The variety of ages represented probably sets 3 Degrees apart from most Downtown bars and clubs. Well, that and the fact that there's no bumping and grinding on the dance floor. Club policy limits public displays of affection -- couples (of all orientations) can dance close or hold hands, but don't expect to sit on anybody's lap.

Don't get the wrong idea, no one's wearing frumpy frocks or sensible shoes; even the co-pastors look hip. There's no dress code; girls show up with strappy tank tops while boys don collared shirts and try to look sharp with slicked-back hair.

Twenty-two year-old Benjamin, who also frequents Club Escape (600 Hennepin Ave. S.) and other Downtown bars, said he comes to 3 Degrees because of the smoke-free environment and for the higher possibility of meeting a girl he wouldn't mind taking home to meet his mom.

"There are quality girls here," he said. "They aren't trashy."

Drinks and hours

The espresso, coffee drinks and smoothies at 3 Degrees might rival coffee kings like Starbucks and Dunn Bros. Between $4 and $4.50 apiece, drinks here cost around the same as your average beer at other Downtown spots. The downstairs caf/ offers "bar food" like chips and salsa, nachos, chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks.

Thursday nights the live music starts around 7; 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. All ages are welcome for most concerts; however, you must be at least 16 to hang in the downstairs lounge after 9:30 p.m. on weekends. And on Saturdays, when the DJ comes on around 11 p.m., it's 18 and up only so all the kids have to go home.

To hear local live music, it's $7, and just $3 if the DJ is the only one hitting the stage. National Christian musicians set their own ticket prices, usually between $10 and $25. It's free to just hang out in the downstairs lounge.

There are also church services Wednesdays and Sundays, 7-8:30 p.m.

The verdict

Don't knock it 'til you try it. This won't be your craziest night out, but you'll certainly hear some good-rate music in a first-class joint.