Music News & Reviews

Dame reopening positive sign for Lexington nightlife

Jim Noll was up in a bucket crane Monday afternoon hanging a new sign on the front of the Main Street Live complex.

Out on the street, he started hearing car horns honking and people cheering.

"You don't get that much just for putting up a sign," says Noll, the manager of Main Street Live.

Yes, but this sign signaled the reopening of one of Lexington's most popular music venues, which closed in June to make way for the CentrePointe hotel, condo and retail development.

The sign signaled that The Dame is back in business.

Friday night, the club that in five years became one of Lexington's premier live music venues, reopens at Main Street Live with a concert by Talking Heads tribute band Same as it Ever Was.

"It's exciting to be here and be starting up in a new space," says Tom Yost, owner of The Dame. "All of the news across the country lately has been bad, so it's great to have a chance to talk about something good happening."

As he talked, the music venue at Main Street Live was still in the process of being transformed into The Dame, the club's signature shade of muted rouge nearly covering all of the walls in the front half of the facility. The venue houses everything from additional music stages to dining to outdoor bars and seating to a beach volleyball court.

At Main Street Live, The Dame will differ from its old home on the now-demolished block at the corner of Main and Limestone streets.

There is a front area to the club that will have, "the Dame look," as Yost calls it: that burnt red and black color scheme with posters of old movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe and James Dean and frosted glass panes with images a Dame silhouette or Vargas-like pin-up girls.

The front area will have plenty of seating and play host to events such as The Dame's popular '80s Dance Parties.

Doglegging back to the right is the music hall, which in coming weeks will host acts such as Big Fresh Saturday night, Chico Fellini, Big Maracas and others in coming weeks.

Yost says the new Dame has an improved stage and lighting over the old venue, and the club will also be adding high definition internet broadcasts of shows to its lineup in about six months.

"Multimedia is critical for venues to survive in the future," Yost says, noting that showing its concerts on the Internet is important to raising the Dame's profile worldwide and ultimately attracting bigger-name bands.

Since it opened in April 2003, The Dame hosted numerous national and international acts including The Arcade Fire, De La Soul, Frank Black and, last spring in the midst of the CentrePoint controversy, country superstar Kenny Chesney.

Coming to Main Street Live, the Dame is joining forces with a venue that, in its past, has hosted acts such as Kid Rock and George Clinton. It's also becoming part of a facility that is much larger than just the club, and patrons will be able to move freely into other areas.

"It's going to be the biggest entertainment facility ever presented to Lexingtonians," Yost says.

A big plus to The Dame, Yost says, is that Main Street Live will maintain the facility, so the Dame staff can concentrate on music and events. Main Street Live has also absorbed most of the costs for transforming the music hall in the venue into the Dame. It does include a number of familiar items from the old club, including the Dame's bar and a pair of boards loaded with stickers that sat in front of the sound board.

Before the Dame closed, Yost says he and the staff worked to remove some items they thought people may want to take as souvenirs so they would be able to decorate a new venue with familiar items.

"When we were scrambling to take everything down, it was a strange feeling to take the sign down," Yost said. "It was a big symbolic thing to take the sign down and put it back up here."

To a lot of people, it's something to cheer about.