Stayin ‘Alive – How a Newark hotspot moved the dance floor into the living room

It seems that nowadays life can take place almost anywhere. From medicals in your kitchen to college lectures in your bed, remote meetings are widely used as a substitute for face-to-face living. A Newark company goes one step further: a weekly nightclub with live DJs, right in your living room!

QXT’s is an alternative dance club located on the corner of Mulberry and Elm, just three blocks from Newark’s Prudential Center, and carries with its name a rich history of urban entertainment. Adapted from the Don Quixote restaurant around 30 years ago, it has functioned as a mix between a living room and a mosh pit for music lovers of various genres such as EDM, goth, punk and rock, attracting a crowd of niche revelers. region for decades. Recently, along with many other companies and individuals in the entertainment industry, QXT closed its doors to customers. In Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka has instituted a number of rules and curfews for non-essential businesses. But that doesn’t mean the party has come to a complete stop.

Current QXT nightclub owner Rolando Manna and his team of innovative DJs have been taking to the virtual stage since last summer, broadcasting their generally unusual mix of alternative jams on their Twitch streaming channel, ClubQxTs.

“The idea for streaming came from… our resident DJs,” Manna said. “Some of them already had [begun] to stream from home and obviously we’ve all accepted the concept of reaching out and connecting with our QXT’s fan base. ”

Twitch is a very popular live video streaming service that has developed its large following in the video game industry, but it has since grown into a medium that supports all kinds of creative streams that any user can put together for free, with ads and options for fans to subscribe to the channel to help keep the business afloat.

However, the folks at QXT – while still being ever closer to the edge of the economic meltdown due to a lack of customer base – have taken this new-age approach of letting their fans know they’re always on the go. beat. And for free too!

“[I]n in the midst of a very difficult economic period for so many people … we decided not to [to] make people pay. We are fortunate to have an incredible group of followers who have been so loyal and supportive over the past 30 years, ”said Manna. “Streaming was not designed to increase revenue, but to bring joy to the thousands of subscribers.”

For the QXT family, maintaining their fanbase has been their top priority. Anyone can tune in from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. every Saturday on the club’s Twitch channel to watch a live video feed from the club’s DJs and keep spinning tracks on the QXT stage with colorful strobe lights and smoke machines. And each evening, the stream’s live chat is filled with enthusiastic home revelers, looking to relax and chat with fellow viewers. It seems that although the physical aspect of the club has been abandoned, the team seems to have put together all the right elements: good sound, good vibes and good company.

The stream peaks at around 150 – 175 viewers and receives an average of 80 to 90 people per night. The club’s latest stream upload saw just under 1,200 views in total, which isn’t too shabby for a fairly new Twitch channel that launched in May 2020.

“[Live streaming] would never replace the energy level of a dance floor… Nor can it provide the synergy of a crowd with a live DJ. Nonetheless, we are happy to have it and will continue to use it in the future. ”

Although they are crushing the streaming game, Manna and her team, alongside so many others, plan to reopen as soon as possible. QXT would expect to let customers enter as a small-scale lounge, hopefully this year, where their unique collection of music can be heard, accompanied by food and drink, tapas-style. They are currently awaiting official city approval to install a kitchen. Sadly, the pandemic has slowed down government as a whole as well as business. Despite all of this, Manna hopes to open the doors to QXT’s “The Crypt” and “Area 51” dancefloors in the coming year – at reduced capacity of course.

Until then, however, QXT will continue to rely on the charity of its fans to help keep them afloat until it comes time to return to business as usual. Head club promoter Damian Hrunka and a few other resident DJs opened a GoFundMe campaign titled “QXT’s 2021 Home Away From Home Relief” on behalf of Manna’s club last May, and have since raised nearly $ 36,000 towards their goal. of $ 50,000.

The instructions read: “Donate and Share Words of Encouragement,” so the club received a surge of love from all corners of the alternate scene. Sermons of love and worship flood the donation box, along with gifts ranging from $ 20 to $ 600. All donors refer to QXT as home and, ironically, the current situation immediately put the essence of the club in the homes of fans, at the forefront of their thoughts and prayers.

“[W]We can honestly say that the generosity of our clients is the main reason we have not given up… If our plan [to reopen as a Lounge with a kitchen] is working, we are committed to having QXT as our place… for many years to come. ”

While the current state of affairs is pretty grim, the future looks brighter – or, in QXT’s gothic-themed rooms, darker – every day. Basic community and cultural elements like this nightclub are struggling, but with the continued support of their loyal customers, they will make a full recovery in due course. And the wonderful thing is that nowadays the best thing you can do to show your support is sit back, relax and do a headbang to a punk-industrial-darkwave song being played. from your laptop. Now it’s metal.

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