At Club Bounce, a newly opened bar in the former Pandora Night Club space in Old Town, men have to be a quarter-century old to enter, while for the ladies, it’s standard 21-and-up fare.
Setting the age limit higher is an effort by the club’s management to weed out “troublemakers, younger guys that are out causing trouble,” according to Mike Watkins, marketing director at Bounce Entertainment LLC, which owns the club.
“I can’t say everyone does, but typically those that are out creating trouble … are a little bit younger,” Watkins said. “Therefore, their thought process was to make it 25-and-up for men, 21-and-over for the women.”
“It’s kind of discriminatory and yet I get the gist behind it all.”
The city of Wichita’s law department said in an e-mail that the age restriction is not something the city would regulate and is a business decision on the club’s part. The city only regulates the minimum age requirements imposed by state statute or city ordinance.
The group of first-time club operators are hoping the age limitations, along with a focus on Latin music, will improve the club’s reputation and draw crowds. The former Pandora Night Club was the subject of criticism from Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay after a shooting outside the bar in March left four injured.
Ramsay named Pandora and Indigo Lounge as the sources of the vast majority of violence in Old Town. Afterward, Indigo Lounge re-tooled itself, reopening as Industry Old Town in May. Pandora closed in mid-May.
We’re trying to attract that more mature person that’s just looking to come out, drink and socialize, and go home.
Mike Watkins, Club Bounce
The age rules “may affect the attendance a little bit, but on the flip side of that, we hope that attendance that we do get is good-quality attendance, if you will,” Watkins said. “We’re trying to attract that more mature person that’s just looking to come out, drink and socialize, and go home.”
According to public records with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, the organizer behind Wichita-based Bounce Entertainment LLC is Nicholas Bonavia.
Club Bounce had a silent opening earlier this month but started promoting itself through Facebook in mid-August. It has done no other sort of promotion, though it’s currently working on a website.
When Club Bounce took over in the Pandora space, the operator of the club, who goes by “Bounce,” began renovating. There’s now new LED lighting that will display 40 colors, an improved dance floor, and hardwood where there was carpet in Pandora.
The club wants to tone down its drink specials to some degree, Watkins said.
“What we provide from a specials standpoint, I think we’re trying to keep it … what people are used to,” Watkins said. “No off-the-wall drink specials.”
The club will only be open on Fridays from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The operators of Club Bounce are banking on the hope that there is demand for a large Latin dance venue on Friday nights in Old Town – that’s what they hope will differentiate the club from others. On Saturdays, the club will play pop music, much like other clubs.
“We felt like we should cater to the Latin folks and the folks that like that particular style of music,” Watkins said. “They will come back on Saturdays, when we’re going to try to appeal to the audience of today’s hits and pop music. We clearly want to stay away from that image that Pandora has. I know it’s going to be tough – clubs are clubs, bars are bars, and so forth.”
We clearly want to stay away from that image that Pandora has.
Mike Watkins, Club Bounce
So far, the crowds at Club Bounce have been light on Fridays, but on Saturdays the club is attracting more. 54 West Music Hall, in Towne West Square, also hosts Latin nights on Fridays.
The club plans to start bringing in Latin artists on Friday nights.
Club Bounce will participate in the Wichita Crawl for Cancer event on Saturday, a pub crawl that also winds through Old Town bars like Emerson Biggin’s, Pumphouse, Heroes and the Brickyard. Watkins said he hopes Saturday will give Club Bounce the opportunity to showcase itself to first-timers.
“Things like that will bring in that type of crowd to see what type of club we are,” Watkins said. “The music is key. If someone doesn’t like the music that’s being played, they’re going to go somewhere else.”
Where: 115 N. Rock Island
What: Latin bar on Friday nights, pop music bar on Saturday nights
Hours: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays
Who: Entry restricted to men 25 and up, women 21 and up. The club is hosting a “Layback Labor Day Bash” on Sept. 4, hosted by Sky from VH1’s “Black Ink Crew.” Doors open at 9 p.m.; tickets are $15 online at www.ticketstorm.com and $20 at the door.