We spent most of 2001 remodeling the DNA Lounge, and here's what we came
We started with what was essentially a dive bar with a nice
stage: a big wooden barn with some speakers. It was held together with
duct tape, and everything was sticky. Today, it's a state-of-the-art
technology-heavy dance club and live performance venue with a
post-apocalyptic ``cyberpunk'' look.
Our original remodeling plan was to move the downstairs bar, level
out the dance floor, and clean up the bathrooms. Well, it turned out
that we had to do some fairly significant construction in order to
soundproof the place sufficiently to match the new regulations, and so
that simple remodeling plan turned into a less-simple one... One thing
led to another (e.g., if you close up the windows, you need
ductwork...) And a year later, here we are.
Click on the images above to see the old and new floorplans,
upstairs and downstairs. These images aren't totally to scale, or
totally in sync with what we built, but they're pretty close. For
scale, the building is roughly 100' x 50'.
We replaced the downstairs bar (the main bar.) The old DNA had
a four-sided bar that took up roughly the front third of the room. It
caused a huge dead space near the front wall, and seriously intruded on
the dance floor. We ripped that bar out, and installed a new bar
along the front wall of the club, between the doors. This just about
doubled the usable size of the downstairs dance floor.
We re-built the upstairs front bar (the balcony bar.) The old bar
left very little room between the bar and the balcony, The new bar has
been redesigned to be longer but less deep, so there is now a lot more
room to move on the balcony.
We also re-built the upstairs back bar (the lounge bar.) The old
bar was sort of a triangle tucked into the corner. The new bar is in
a slightly different position, and takes up about the same amount of
space, but has room for two bartenders instead of just one.
All three bars are as compact and efficient as they are in part
because we keep no kegs at the bars: all of our beer kegs live in the
walk-in refrigerator, and the beer is piped from there to the bars
through hundreds of feet of refrigerated tubes!
We completely resurfaced all of the floors in the club.
The downstairs floor was partially concrete, partially wood-framed
floor, and partially rubber mats. The dance floor area had a serious
slope leading up to it that was a major tripping hazard. Basically, it
was a mess.
We resurfaced and leveled the downstairs floor. On top of the
new concrete, we constructed a new wall-to-wall dance floor, consisting
of two layers of wood floating on top of 1/4" of neoprene, to make
it springy and comfortable to dance on.
The balcony and lounge floors were also resurfaced: they are
smooth now, instead of being torn-up wooden planks.
We doubled the capacity of the bathrooms, and rebuilt them all
from scratch. The old downstairs bathrooms were both to the right of
the stage. That whole space is now occupied by the women's bathroom.
The men's room is now to the left of the stage (the former location of
the dj booth.)
The bathrooms (downstairs and upstairs) have been completely
re-done in black tile and stainless steel fixtures, with motion-sensor
activators on the toilets, urinals, and sinks.
Anyone who ever used the old DNA's bathrooms, with their 18th
century level of hygiene, will really appreciate the new ones!
The balcony has a new railing. It's made of rusted steel beams and
wire mesh. Unlike the old railing, the wire mesh lets you see through
the railing if you're standing back from it, which opens up the sight
lines to the stage from the second floor quite a bit. The new railing
also has an integrated drink rail.
The whole balcony support structure has been re-engineered and
reinforced with steel girders, and as a result, we were able to remove
two of the columns supporting the balcony from below, opening up the
downstairs even more. The remaining columns are now rusted steel
cylinders, instead of wooden posts.
And the whole thing is just incredibly cool looking.
We also rebuilt the front stairs, out of steel: instead of
being a straight shot from the balcony to the front door, the stairs
now turn, leading you into the main room instead of out the door. This
was also for soundproofing reasons: there's a concrete wall between the
stairs and the outside world now.
In the old DNA, the dj booth was an enclosed room tucked away to
the left of the stage, with a glass window between it and the dance
floor; and the sound booth was a raised platform in a corner against
the front wall. Both of these were very isolated and inaccessible to
the main room.
We built a metal catwalk-like platform, halfway between the
balcony and the downstairs (yes, our mezzanine has a mezzanine!) This
is the new location of the dj, live sound, and lighting stations. The
dj is much closer to the dance floor, and people standing at the
balcony are actually looking over the dj: they have an unimpeded
view of the stage, and can watch the dj work.
In the upstairs back room (the lounge) we've moved the dj to the
edge of the dance floor, right out in the open. The old location was
up on the third floor looking down, with bad sight lines to the dance
floor, and completely inaccessible to the public.
In 2006, we replaced the bathroom on the south side of the
balcony with a kitchen! It has windows opening onto both the
bathroom and the lounge, from which you can order food.
We have a completely new sound system downstairs, capable of
supporting both djs and live performances. Only bits and pieces of the
DNA's old sound system remain: what were once the main speakers in the
main room are now the speakers in the upstairs lounge.
We have a combination dj/live music 17,000W sound system serving
the main room, including the downstairs stage and dance floor, and the
second floor balcony; plus a separate dj sound system in the upstairs
All sound system control and routing in the main room is provided
by a pair of
BSS Sound Web 9088 MKII 8x8 digital processors. These are
signal-processing computer thats digitally simulate all of the
crossovers, compressors, equalizers, etc. used in the PA. By using
these, we're able to have a single sound system that serves double duty
as both a dj system and a live system, since it can be totally
reconfigured at the press of a button.
Complete specifications of all our gear can be found on the
Sound System page.
The majority of what used to be the light show in the main room
downstairs is now the light show in the lounge, upstairs. We have a
completely new set of lights downstairs, including strobes, spotlights,
and dozens of moving-fixture intelligent lights.
All main room lighting, including dance floor, stage, and
dimmed architectural lighting, are controlled from the lighting station
on the dj platform.
Complete specifications of all our gear can be found on the
Lighting System page.
The entire front wall of the building has been reconstructed: it
is now a foot-thick concrete wall, from the sidewalk to the peak of
To accommodate this, we also installed a ventilation system: we
closed all the existing roof penetrations (for various fans and gravity
vents) and have riddled the club with ductwork, leading from a single
input fan, and a single output fan on the roof of the building.
The fans are variable-speed, so we are able to keep the interior of the
club comfortable as the night goes on.
We rebuilt the entrance and exit paths: both doors of the club are
now preceded by a zig-zagging hallway whose walls are also 6" of
concrete, covered in 2" of sound-deadening material. Essentially,
to enter or exit the club, you walk through a giant muffler.
In addition, we have new soundproof front doors.
To accommodate the new concrete sound walls around the entrances, we
rebuilt the main stairway, so that it no longer faces the outside
world, but turns at the wall.
The club is full of video cameras, which are used both as sources
of images for the TV screens, but also for the webcast. We have
about a dozen cameras installed around the club (two of which are
servo-mounted) providing views of the stage, the dance floors,
the dj, the line outside, etc.
We have audio and video webcasts every night. Our plan is simple:
everything that goes out over the club's in-house sound system also
goes out over the web, and gets archived for two weeks. We broadcast
in both RealVideo and in
streaming MP3 formats.
For nine years, we provided a number of flatscreen internet kiosks
throughout the club. In the time before everyone had a cell phone
with a decent web browser, this was convenient and fun. The kiosks
outlived their usefulness, however, and we finally removed them in
We do, however, still provide free wireless network access
(802.11b SSID = "dnalounge", no registration required.)