Neil Young says it's better to burn out than fade away, but the crew at the new Night Light Lounge might disagree. An electrical fire forced the Southeast Clinton Street club to board up its door last Thursday, little more than a month after the bar welcomed its very first crowd of hipsters and b-boys.
And this wasn't the first blaze the lounge had weathered in its short life. A small group of Clinton-area homeowners had spearheaded a drive to deny the club a liquor license before it even opened, complaining that the Night Light would be too loud for the neighborhood. The bar's co-owners, Warren Boothby, Hope Beraka, Chris Gutierrez and Daniel Fierro, fought for their right to party at an Oregon Liquor Control Commission hearing in April--and won.
The group of friends, all of whom are in their late 20s or early 30s, dreamed up the Night Light last winter. Musician Fierro wanted a haven for DJs and laptop-fueled sonic noise, while artist Boothby dreamed of wide walls on which to hang local art. Along with Gutierrez and Beraka, they transformed an old thrift store on a neglected stretch of Clinton Street into a DIY hipster haven. From the organic grub served on white china and the Olympia tallboys and Chimay Red Ale stocking the fridge, to the Decemberists, Lyrics Born and Epoxies CDs in the double-stuffed jukebox, Wieden & Kennedy couldn't have branded this spot better.
But on a visit last week before, as Beraka termed it, "The Fire '04," the bar's New American Casuals-clad neighbors (it seems many Clintonites still support noise pollution), scruffy artists, and deep house DJ all seemed a little tame, like the first hour of a party, before everyone gets real drunk and rowdy and fun. None of the fetid seasonings that make a bar feel like home had appeared yet. There was no gum stuck under the lovely copper-plate and epoxy-topped tables, no lingering smell of Comet, smoke and vomit in the bathroom. But the large painting of a nude woman sprawled out on a La-Z-Boy that hangs smack-dab in the middle of the club's back wall speaks highly of its future hangout potential.
According to Beraka, the club's co-owners plan to regroup, repair and reopen the Night Light in the next few weeks (visit www.nightlightlounge.net for updates), and the group has more in mind for the space than just beer binges. Beraka wants to team up with nearby cafes and bars like Genies, Tiny's and the Basement Pub for another Eastside art walk, this one on Friday nights. A night devoted to local film shorts, as well as an evening for laptop DJs, will heat up the space in the next few months.
But please, dear owners, keep a fire extinguisher at the ready.
, 2100 SE Clinton St., 731-6500.