Joker’s brings comic relief to a serious club vibe1/2/2013
For those of you who weren’t alive in 1989, the first Batman movie epitomized — before Christian Bale’s throaty rendition of the hero and the late Heath Ledger’s demonically demented version of the Joker — a comparably more jovial depiction of the classic battle of good vs. evil. Back then, the PG-13 Joker was played be the classy and cavalier Jack Nicholson. That’s the Joker you should picture when thinking about the new Court Avenue bar that opened in the former Liars Club last week. It’s cool and different in a very devil-may-care sort of way.
Like Nicholson, the new club is a slick-back-your-ducktail, wear-your-shades-inside-at-night, all smiles kind of atmosphere, but it’s no old-timer’s dive. It’s a big-city dance club that dresses up and acts like a comedy club one night a week.
“We don’t cater to a demographic of people; we cater to a lifestyle,” explained managing partner Darin Beck. “Some people will just get, and love it; some people won’t, just like anything else; just like ‘Liars.’
“Liars didn’t fail. It was actually quite successful,” he continued. “It just ran its course in Des Moines. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just that things go through cycles, and in Des Moines, if a place does well, it usually goes for about three or four years before it’s time for a change.”
Change? Complete overhaul would be a more accurate description. Fitting the theme, the once sleek barroom floor is carpeted like a patchwork quilt similar to a jester’s garb. The red walls have been repainted a colorful combination of oranges, purples and yellows. And the Liars Club staple — the big island bar at the hub of the lofty space — has been transformed into a stage/dance floor, making the focal point “the people, not the bar,” Beck explained.
“It’s about putting the people on center stage as opposed to the bartender,” he said.
It’s definitely all about the peeps, especially the very important ones. Five VIP pods, each able to sit as many as eight friends, are primely located, either with a great view of the stage or of the buzzing historic Court Avenue District from two stories up. Ten dollars or less buys you cushy VIP accommodations such as sofa lounges and bottle service, which are available on any given night to anyone if the area is not already reserved.
On Friday’s comedy nights, save yourself the $10 ticket price and stick around after happy hour to see the comedy show at 8:30 before the club crowd comes buzzing in. By 10 p.m. the place turns into a high-energy, full-on dance club. A live DJ edges out the comedian and the couches to reveal a ripe dance floor overlooked by two joker masks that come to life with lights and spew cool cryogenic mist that will draw goose bumps even on a hot dance floor.
“You just have to witness it to understand it,” Beck said. “There’s really nothing like it in Des Moines right now.”
No joke. CVJoker’s 216 Court Ave. (above Legends) (515) 237-5427 www.jokersdsm.com HOURS: Tues.-Fri., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat. 7 p.m.-2 a.m. HAPPY HOUR: Tues. all day; Wed., Thurs. 5-9 p.m.; Fri. 5-8 p.m. ENTERTAINMENT: Fri. live comedy at 8:30 p.m.; live DJ Thurs.-Sat.