Belly Up To The Octopods

Remember when it was all about the dance floor? Nowadays, of course, club lighting is about so much more — sophisticated lighting packages in restrooms, hallways, even inside the bars themselves — all in the name of making one venue stand out from the next.

Club X, one of the first high-end lounges in Baltimore, located two blocks from Baltimore's Inner Harbor, was designed and installed by Mike Deano of Deano's Sound and Lighting and features a package made up primarily of gear from Elation and Alkalite. The split-level venue opened last November, and the space it occupies was a club at one time, but the entire building had to be gutted and everything was put in new: wooden floors, steel beams, sprinkler system, HVAC, etc.

Deano and his wife Kelly, a partner in the company, worked with the architect to achieve the appropriate look for the club. “The architect's vision for the place was more of the light tones, light colors,” Deano says. “There's a sushi bar downstairs, for instance, so if people want to come and eat, they wouldn't be overwhelmed with a lot of flashy colors. It was very subtle. So we were able to use the Alkalite Rivas and Octopods to get to that. If you walk in at 9pm, it might be purple, and then as the night goes on, the whole club changes color — not necessarily every nook and cranny, but that was basically what we were trying to achieve.”

One of Deano's biggest challenges on the project was designing the color- changing bar top. Initially, he tried Rivas in the recessed space, but when the units were reset, there were some issues with hotspots. When he switched to the Octopods, they solved the problem. “We had to achieve the right angle and height of the Octopods inside the bar, which sat under the Plexiglas bar top,” Deano explains. “The proper thickness and frost for the bar top had to be chosen so that the patrons seated at the bar would not see these fixtures recessed within. The right angles and placement of the fixtures had to be determined so there would not be any hotspots and so that the light was evenly dispersed throughout the bar top.” Deano notes that he's lit bar tops plenty of times in the past, mostly with fiber optics or LEDs, but that this was the first time he'd used moving lights. “The Octopods turned out real nice,” he says.

The club entrance is illuminated by eight Alkalite Rivas recessed in the ceiling, while the lounge area, which features clusters of dark leather couches and low lounge tables, is illuminated by Rivas recessed in the ceiling, as well as Elation Color Spot 250s that project the Roman numeral “X” onto the walls. The shimmer effect screens the lounge from the rest of the club. “We recessed the Elation Color Spot 250s in the ceiling so the only thing you see is the moving yoke,” Deano says. Each side of this lounge area is lined by 24 Color Kinetics iColor® Coves.

The upstairs level consists of the VIP Section, a small dance floor, and reserved table sections, each with its own LCD TV. The bar top upstairs is also illuminated by recessed Octopods. The upstairs is programmed to change the mood of the room throughout the night. There is a custom brushed aluminum piece of artwork that separates the walkway from the dance floor. “Within this piece of artwork is mesh,” explains Deano, “in which we were able to use the Elation Color Spot 250s and illuminate it with color and gobo effects that bounce off of it.”

Deano programmed the first floor using a Show Designer I controller from Elation. “The controller was programmed to run in the show mode throughout the course of the night,” he says. “What we achieved are slow color-changing fades which changes the room's mood as the night progresses. We also put static scenes in the controller for theme nights or if they wanted the room to be one particular color in any given night.

“On the second floor, we used the Show Designer II, which enabled us to have various banks with certain individual lights on each of them,” Deano continues. “This gave us the option to have each set of lights do their own thing; the Elation Color Spots, the Martin MX 10s, and the iColor® Coves all could be changed independently.”

Deano credits American DJ's Chuck Green for helping with the project, along with Chris Healey from The Healey Group, lighting programmer Mike Smith, club owner George Kopp, and of course his wife, Kelly.