|When :||10:00pm to 3:00am Friday and Saturday|
|Where :||2004 N 16th St, Tampa, FL|
|Observations :||Monday upstairs - Old Wave Video with VJ Rob Pittman playing the best of the alternative 80's videos. Thursday upstairs - Pop and Wave with VJ Mike Roehr playing the best modern alternative/dance videos. Friday upstairs - Communion After Dark, DJ Tom Gold spins a mix of Industrial and Goth. Friday downstairs - Progression , DJ Rich Ranck spins the full spectrum of alternative music, with an emphasis on the modern, progressive, and electronic. Saturday upstairs - Carpe Noctem, DJ Tom Gold spins mostly new Industrial/Goth. Saturday downstairs - Sean plays varied dark electronic music. Additional Info, Victor Nazarian, The City Morgue Magazine. Florida is well known for bright sunshine, sandy beaches and both good and bad weather. I had spent the day Saturday skydiving and flying at Sebastian Airport about an hour south of the Kennedy Space Center. There, Wendy, a skydiving instructor and manifest for the airport told me a little about The Castle which she attends a few times a year. "It's always interesting. Neat makeup.” She said. After playing in the air all day I then finished out by quite literally plunging into the dark with a super cool jump at sundown, falling from day into night. Then I drove across the state on Rt. 60 (past a gas tanker truck accident) to Tampa to check out their special Goth nightclub. After a solid day of adrenaline and excitement and then a 160 mile drive I was in an elevated, if tired, state of mind. The Castle didn’t disappoint me. The entrance is a real wooden "castle keep" door with wrought iron hinges, bands, fittings & brackets to bar the door with. As you enter you are immediately confronted with the obvious evidence that someone went to significant and expensive effort to decorate and furnish the place right. It also comes across as very professional and well managed with competent ID check and then entrance charge and even a separate entrance off to the side for people already wrist banded and returning from a trip outside to visit their car, the ATM or whatever. Inside the place is very large and has a well defined upstairs and downstairs with separate sound systems and features. Upstairs is slightly more geared to the cybergoth and techno dance club angle while the downstairs areas are geared a little more towards gothic speakeasy. I got the impression that it’s easy for the managers to simply close off either the upstairs or the downstairs as needs arise for private events or concerts or whatever. The downstairs bar is a thing of beauty all by itself and any city could count itself lucky to have only that. It consists of a large barroom decorated with reproduction 19th c. pirate grotto style furnishings & wall hangings. Real brick, stone and tile work, wooden window sills and faux stained glass windows. The room is actually lighted mostly with candles in the wall sconces and in table settings with only slight supplemental electric light to aid the bartenders. Tall tables and chairs are arranged along the outside walls and ample stools and chairs are provided at the bar itself. Even the surface of the very large U shaped bar is impressive being made of real stone with a deeply cut irregular channel carved into its surface through which a small fountain stream flows. You have to watch out where you set your drink down or where you rest your elbows but the extra attention is worth it to have such a cool bit of detail. The two very cool bartenders appeared to smile a lot and even though they were very busy, they tended to my needs quickly and efficiently. They even dressed well for the night with the blond in a black PVC dress and sequined corset and the brunette in an all white PVC minidress. I wish I could have gotten their names but as I said, the place was very busy. Drinks are a bit pricey with one glass of Merlot setting me back $5 plus tip but it was reasonably good wine and was served to me in actual stemware instead of a plastic cup. The back exit from the downstairs bar leads past a set of private bathrooms to a well done up courtyard enclosed with a 20 foot high wooden fence and brick walls. It has trees, benches, a dance floor and its own sound system & DJ which feeds the whole downstairs area with music. A moving liquid light show shines on floor along with a disco ball and lots of white Christmas lights, iron sconces & old decorations. This gives the courtyard a hell of a lot of flavor. DJ Sean was there that night spinning a very wide range of tunes from sultry gothic stuff & slower industrial & "introspective" pop to Ramstein. I spent a significant amount of time in the downstairs bar and courtyard just hanging out and enjoying the place. There I met Ruvia in all black PVC sitting at the bar looking stunning. She told me she’d been on the Tampa scene since about ‘98. “I love it, I think it's great.” She said. She told me she did her hair and makeup herself and purchased her outfit in NYC at Purple Passion. Very fine is all I can say. Up the stairway to the second floor you may notice it has its own barred gate and is decorated with dark red carpet inlaid with gold Flurs de Leas. The stairway walls are painted in a diagonal checkerboard and more gold Flurs de Leis. There’s even a demon hanging in skylight above. Details, details, this place has lots of very interesting details and they are coordinated very well. Matthew is another attendee who really loves the place. He’s 25 and has been in Tampa for about 7 months. “I’m Military, assigned to Macdill Air Force Base here in Tampa.” He told me, “I found out about the castle the first HOUR I was here in Tampa. Once I found it, I knew I found my place. I haven't bothered to look beyond the Castle's walls.” He also had good things to say about bartenders. “Tia the tattooed bartender in skimpy leather dominatrix wear in the upstairs bar, she’s like a Castle Icon… makes the best damned drinks in Tampa.” Impressive. I have run into enthusiasm like that from time to time but strong endorsements like that are still rare and wonderful to hear. I saw nothing all night to make me think he was overstating the case and if I lived in the Tampa area, I’d probably be there a whole lot also. Once upstairs The Castle keeps serving up interesting stuff. The Men’s bathroom is nothing particularly special but the ladies get a nice separate sitting room for makeup or whatever attached to their restroom. There’s also the Red Room with its own small bar and lots of lounge space and also the huge main dance room with even more lounging areas and a huge dance floor and bar. The aptly named Red Room is particularly nice. Very much like a gothic sitting room with a nice Bar along one side. In days of old it would have been a gentleman’s smoking room. Lighted mostly with candles, it’s got that thick, dark and brooding feel of a genuine, intimate lounge as opposed to simply a room where people are lounging. The red wallpapered walls & ceiling and assorted gothic and Victorian furnishings are accented with various macabre and historical bits and decorations and in the corner there’s a set of ancient stairs leading up to closed attic. Music is piped in from the main upstairs dance area but kept low so as to allow for conversation. The room is an excellent place to make out in and I saw a bit of that from time to time. In the Red Room I met Monette & Armand, a very well dressed black couple who had only moved to Tampa the previous August from New York City where they had been into the scene for at least 6 years. “Here in Tampa it’s a lot slower pace of life." They commented but also said that they are very happy with the scene. In general the Red Room seemed to draw interesting people in all night for a bit of semi-private time. Room seemed to draw interesting people in all night for a bit of semi-private time. There I also met Jessi & Mike lounging on one of the couches and paying lots of attention to each other. I approve and indeed I wish all goth clubs had places like the Red Room attached to them. The huge main room upstairs is exceptional. As with the downstairs bar, any city would be lucky to have just the upstairs. Easily large enough to accommodate several hundred people, this space is exceptionally well thought out for dark fun for long periods of time. It has a huge hollow L shaped bar made of old distressed & mismatched tiles and overseen by 5 tenders. As with the carved stone bartop downstairs you have to watch how you set down your drinks but the coolness factor of the chipped tile bartop is well worth it. The room has 3 hanging video projector screens and 1 super large video projector screen on a small stage. All of them were showing cool picture-in-picture horror & sci-fi. The floors are real hardwood all around, not just in the dance area and in two corners there are sitting/lounging areas. I came across Stefanie & Alan hanging out in one of the little carpeted niches complete with curtains and a good view of the dance floor and bar. They were just hanging out looking good and watching people while they talked with each other. The sound system in the big main room is obviously top notch and extremely powerful It quite literally makes the floor vibrate and of course helped encourage the people to get up and DANCE which they did a lot. Because almost the entire floor space is good hardwood there were people dancing almost everywhere from time to time but there is a more or less designated dance area with raised dance cubes & platforms. People are encouraged to mount the cubes and platforms and show off and the small stage in front of the large video screen is also perfect for getting up in front of people. I never saw a moment when people weren’t dancing and generally burning off lots of energy. DJ & promoter Tom Gold and Chris The Night Guy spin almost the entire night from a really nice DJ station which is a medium sized alcove sunken into one wall with its own pulpit. From there the DJs can see the entire upstairs bar area and rock the house. Well designed and very functional I think. Clothing was well towards the upper level of good at The Castle. I would say that somewhat more than half of the people there went to very significant effort to dress up for the night out and given the very warm temperatures, this meant some sacrifice for some people. Even so, lots of people looked extremely good and reasonably comfortable. As I’ve mentioned before, southern cities somehow attract or breed fine looking ladies. A lot of skin was visible and almost all of it was worth noticing. I saw a lot of PVC and leather but only very little lacy stuff or historical items. Several people had nice ink showing and a few people had exceptional hair and wigs. One girl had a really cool wig that looked as if part of it was made of strips of the red plastic “danger” tape that police and fire departments use to cordon off unsafe areas. Understated makeup mostly. It seemed to me that most of the makeup I noticed was to accent instead of to shock or change someone’s appearance. Perhaps there’s a softer side to the scene in Tampa. I was wholly pleased. The Castle is fairly easy to get to off of I-4. The Ybor City (pronounced ee-bore) is essentially the old town part of Tampa and is laid out like a grid with some streets one way and other’s two ways. I was able to simply get off and take any south bound street a few blocks and then take a west bound avenue a few more blocks and park in the street about 3 blocks from the club. There’s public parking lots and private pay lots all over the area so I didn’t see any problem with parking even though the area was full of people. The police do sometimes block off some streets so plan ahead to get there early if you want the least amount of hassle and the best, most inexpensive parking. The general area seemed to me to be lively, well lighted and safe with lots going on and plenty of entertainment, food and drink available. To top this scene off there is even a new after hours gig underway. DeGe's Gallery (85 Corey Circle, St. Pete, Florida, 33706 (727) 421-0145) has been kicked off to give people somewhere to go after 2 AM to hang out and drink a few non-alcoholic drinks. It’s right on the bay and they have a patio that overlooks the water and plenty of parking on site. They keep the music going with DJ Illuminus and Shawn David splitting the 5 hour set. Pretty damn cool. One other thing to think about is the fact that Orlando and the Land of Big Mouse is just an hour or so down the road complete with all of the tourist trap wonderfulness of Disney and Universal and it’s own Goth/Industrial scene. This is largely focused around The Independent Bar and LD’s nights there on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday called Necropolis. You can find out about that a bit by visiting http://www.clubnecropolis.com/necropolismain.html and I highly recommend looking into it. All in all, central Florida is well worth it.|
|DJs :||DJs Tom Gold, Rob Pittman, Rich Ranck, Mike Roehr, Paradise, SeX, Sean.|
|Cover :||Monday - $2 for 21+and $3 for 18+ Friday - $4 for 21+and $5 for 18+ Saturdays - $5 for 21+and $6 for 18+|
|Door Policy :||18 and up with valid ID|
|Drinks :||Pints and liters of Imports on tap starting at $4. Bottled Import and domestic beers starting at $2. Mixed Drinks from standard bar brands to the exotic like Chartruse starting at $3. Shot of all kinds starting at $1.|
|Directions :||Get off I-4, go south on 22nd ST to Palm Ave, turn right, Go to 17th ST, turn Left(after the Hilton Hotel), go 1 block, turn right. At the corner of 16th ST and 9th Ave NE corner. Located in the old downtown part called Ybor City|
|Phone :||(813) 247-7547|
Information provided by Mike Roehr, Elite Force USA, Victor Nazarian (The City Morgue Magazine) < mroehr @ tampabay.rr.com, EliteForce @ buzy.com, victor @ thecitymorgue.com >
Last updated on 12/3/2006.
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