Nightlife industry sings to new tune in Cairns
AFTER a tough few years of closures and consolidation, Cairns' nightlife industry is showing signs of bouncing back, with one of the city's more established venues re-opening and a new one on the way in coming weeks.
Velvet Underground at The Reef Hotel Casino is now under new management.
It was bought by a consortium of New South Wales businessmen headed up by Calvin Koch and Jonathon Lane.
Velvet Underground began its life as The Reef Hotel Casino retro and cabaret venue Nightclub 1936 in 1996, rebranded as Velvet Rope nightclub in 1995 and again as Velvet Underground a short time later.
The group, which also has business interests in clubs in the US and Sydney, including Cronulla Beach's Fusion Night Spot, said they hoped to bring fresh life to the venue.
"Cairns is looking like it’s on the way back up again, it's an ideal time to get into the market," Mr Koch said.
"We've given it a minor refurbishment and a complete clean-out.
"The new DJ box is looking spectacular and we've given the lighting and sound a complete overhaul.
"Whilst we are using local DJs, we'll also be hosting national and international DJs on a regular basis, as well as more adult-oriented and cabaret shows, such as Sam Powers' Extreme Illusions, during the week."
Mr Koch said above all, the new Velvet Underground's focus would be on quality service for its patrons.
"The success of our clubs in other states has mainly been attributed to the quality of service across the bar," he said.
"Making sure patrons are looked after and the bar has everything they want to drink is our priority."
Meanwhile, Velvet Underground's previous owner, Reno Nicastro, is putting the finishing touches on his new venue Sugar Hut, located in the old Rhino Bar on Lake St, adjacent to The Heritage nightclub.
Mr Nicastro said that "everyone thought he was crazy" when he announced he was opening a new venue, but promised Sugar Hut would be worth the wait.
"It's turned out better than I ever thought, I'm going to prove them wrong," Mr Nicastro said.
"It's going to be a little bit more upmarket and stylish, a place for everyone who doesn't want to get harassed by idiots."
Promising strict door standards to ensure upmarket clientele, Mr Nicastro said the venue boasted a 6m LED screen, LED dance floor and a brand new sound and lighting system.
"It's going to be pretty state-of-art, we've also got iPads for the point-of-sale staff," he said.
"We'll be opening in the next couple of weeks, after we've finished the last bits of the fitout."
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Song and dance: Calvin Koch (left) and Jonathan Lane are new owner-managers of the Velvet Underground at the Reef Hotel Casino. Picture: TOM LEE