Putting 'ultra' in 'ultra lounge'

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November 1, 2004 // UPDATED 4:31 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Ellen P. Gabler
Ellen P. Gabler

Spin Nightclub

10 S. 5th St.

spinmn.com

Hours: Friday-Sunday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.

Exclusive nightclub hits the scene with stiff drinks . . . and see-through stalls

As the newest "ultra lounge" on the Downtown scene, Spin Nightclub strives to distinguish itself as the new upscale, classy hangout.

Located in an impressive space (complete with a 20-foot waterfall and 40-foot ceilings) in the Lumber Exchange building, this two-month-old club is about as clean and trendy as Minneapolis bars come.

While this push to build a sense of exclusivity (their logo is "a new level of nightlife") can lean towards the obnoxious, Spin does offer thumpin' Top 40 dance tunes, reasonable drink prices and bathrooms that can't be beat.

The scene

Brace yourself for a full-sensory experience.

The drinks are strong, the music's loud and the crowd is generally good-looking and dressed to a T.

With two levels, a twisting staircase and soft lighting throughout the bar, Spin gets a "10" for ambiance.

Those upstairs can look down at dancers bustin' it up on a circular dance floor below (and are constantly reminded by bar staff to not drop their drinks over the railing). A DJ plays a mix of house, hip-hop and Top 40 music that soars through the club's state-of-the-art equipment.

The ever-exclusive VIP rooms (each of which hold 100 or so mysteriously selected VIPers . . . more on that later) have a separate bar, bottle service and a super-special offering -- video games. There's even a VIP booth with two 30-inch TVs ready to rev up X-Box or Playstation tournaments.

The overall crowd at Spin is in their mid-to-late 20s and early 30s. (There's some overlap with the patronage of the owner's other bar, Drink, 26 N. 5th St.)

Mona, 25, said the upscale club drew a stuffy crowd. "The men are either too pretentious or too cheesy," she said. "It's like they're from the suburbs and this is their first time out."

However, Jackie, 23, disagreed. In fact, she digs Spin-men because they "aren't very sleazy," and is also a big fan of the fact that the "bartenders pour stiff drinks."

What's hot

If you hate clubs, dancing, booze and fun, fine -- but at least stop in to check out Spin's ladies' lavatories.

Incredible, intriguing and downright kinky is the best way to describe these clear-door potties sitting front-and-center in Spin's upstairs bar.

Bar-side patrons have a full view of the four separate porcelain thrones each behind its own magic glass door.

As the ladies head in, a nearby bouncer reminds them to lock the door after they enter. The locking triggers the magic: the door fogs over, allowing ladies to pee in peace.

In keeping with nightlife traditions, girls love to go in groups and frequently bring the whole pack into a single stall. Each has her turn to do her duty while the ladies-in-waiting entertain the outsiders with suggestive silhouettes.

What's not

While VIP rooms are popping up in other Minneapolis "ultra lounges," such as BarFly and Club Escape (both on 6th Street & Hennepin Avenue South), Spin's VIP entrance policy is closely guarded like a Mafia hideaway or super-secret clubhouse.

The only sure way to feel "very important" is to throw down for the bottle service offered inside, bar staff say. A special "bottle-service host" reportedly ushers those who want to buy a bottle of booze (which starts at $150) into the VIP area.

The bottle service is so popular that, according to the staff (who requested anonymity), you can't make reservations for it and just have to take your chances.

These guys are unusually tightlipped about how else one can score a spot in the VIP lounge. However, since Spin patrons are encouraged to "dress to impress and aim to be seen," according to the club's Web site, it's likely that club staff simply pluck those with the "right look" to hang with the other special people.

Drinks

Spin's weekend rush specials are pretty good: Fridays, 9-10:30 p.m., domestic beers are $2, and there are $2 cocktails Saturdays, 9-10:30 p.m.

Otherwise, domestic beers are $3.50 and imports are $4.25. Mixed drinks run the gamut and can get a little pricey but stay within the standard Downtown price-range.

In addition to scoring cheap drinks, getting to Spin early on weekends also pays off because the $5 cover doesn't kick in until 10 p.m.

The verdict

Club-lovers will dig the trendy, upscale image spun at Spin. And for those who aren't into planning their outfit a week, or even a few hours, before their big night out, there's a handful of jeans-and-flannels pubs and clubs Downtown.