Ypsilanti's Club Divine reinvents itself as live-music venue called Savoy
Spring is a time of change, so perhaps it’s only fitting that Ypsilanti’s Club Divine dance club, at 23 North Washington, has reinvented itself as Savoy, a new live music venue with a 700-person (standing) capacity.
Club Divine’s owner, Dave Curtis, still stands at the helm of Savoy, and the space is making a slow transition into its new identity, doing minor cosmetic renovations while staying open and welcoming live music acts on weekends.
“In Washtenaw County, there just are not a lot of choices for bands right now,” said Savoy talent buyer Don Sicheneder. “Generally, Michigan is not a destination state. Bands that are touring the country don’t need to stop through Michigan, and so many skip it altogether, especially ones that don't want to play Detroit or Pontiac. But we thought we could offer a unique opportunity for bands to play here in Washtenaw County in an intimate setting.”
This past Saturday, Savoy had a “soft opening,” featuring Tokyo Sexwhale, October Babies and Dragon Wagon. About 250 people attended the show, and Sicheneder and Curtis got an early glimpse of the Savoy’s future as a live music venue. This Saturday, genre-crossing local band Rootstand is slated to play at 9 p.m.; cover is $5.
“As with any change, the biggest thing is changing the mentality — not only of the employees, but of the city and the surrounding area as well,” said Sicheneder. “It’s not a dance venue anymore, and some people were still acting as though it’s a dance club and instead of a live music venue. So there are certain things we’ll be working on. But like anything, there will be training involved, and that will take some time, including changing the mindset of community.”
One change involves dropping Club Divine’s strict dress code. Physical renovations to the site, meanwhile, include establishing a full stage, new lighting and sound systems, painting, replacement of fixtures, and floor work.
“We want to make it welcoming,” said Sicheneder. “Not only to audiences, the people who come to hear music, but the bands who come through here, too.”
Sicheneder noted that he’s currently working on getting a nationally known act to play the Savoy in the next month, but you shouldn’t necessarily be looking for a grand opening. As far as Sicheneder’s concerned, the Savoy is already on its way and open for business.
“The overall goal is to bring regional and national acts through and have local bands open for them,” said Sicheneder. “I’m committed to local music here, but I also want to bring in national talent, to expose them to people in the area, but also show them that there are great things going on here, too.”
Here's a video with highlights of Savoy's opening show this past Saturday, featuring Dragon Wagon, Tokyo Sexwhale and October Babies: