I dreaded the idea of standing in line on one of the colder nights this winter, freezing off my, uh, posterior portion to get into Fiction, the most recent manifestation of the "club scene" in The Old City. Just like the well-known musician with the bizarre demi-god complex that compelled him to demand he be called some sort of unpronounceable androgynous scribble—oh, wait, we can call him Prince again—the building formerly-known (and often still referred to) as The Underground didn't spew forth the long lines I had remembered from my youth. Of course, I was a little early in my arrival, trying to beat those long lines.
I found I hardly had time to conduct a mental fashion check on the way in. Baggy-wear and baseball caps have never been an issue with me, nor have emblazoned brand identities on my person. And, as best I could tell, I was "classy, not trashy" as I was warned was the clothing credo for Fiction. I held my breath and hoped I would not be bounced for possessing poor fashion sense.
Entering from the Jackson Avenue side of the multi-level structure, the interior was much like I had remembered it from previous days. There's a "lounge" area to the left with lots of seating in a decadently boudoir-flavored decor. Walking farther in, there were the familiar clusters of couches, tables and sparse lighting to the right. Most notable changes were the various murals, statuesque pharaoh reliefs and voluminous draperies that replace the black walls and black lights of bygone times, although, in its later days, The Underground laid the funky foundation with its "Egypt" motif.
The club advertised veteran spinner DJ Slink and a new-to-me talent, Z-Flex, as our musical hosts for the evening, but I never have been able to figure out how one was supposed to know which music master was which without a public announcement or an eagle eye toward the DJ booth, if you can find it.
A few folks milled around on each side of the bar area; some patrons had already laid claim to the darker corners of the club. Although the amalgamation of trance, house and techno music thundered overhead, no one (visible) was shakin' their groove thangs out on the dance floor. It's early, I thought to myself as the tune of "the freaks come out at night" rolled through my head.
Even without gyrating people to ridicule, the dance floor setting was interesting to view. Fantastic lights fluctuated with the beat of the more-than-adequate sound system. A large projection screen glowed psychedelic swirls with a small staging area in front. Various cages, boxes and what looked like tree stands dot the hall to support featured dancers.
Eventually, more people filtered in, a lot of them of the younger set as most nights are 18 and up. Disposable income, I smiled for just a moment, then I felt old...especially when I found myself wondering how well this crowd mix went over, given a history of underage drinking citations that seem to haunt the W. Jackson Avenue premises. I chose to stay away from the bar, remembering a re-count of a New Year's shot my friend had survived to tell about. Seems he paid a pretty penny for a "bartender's special," a toxic mix of Quervo, Jagermeister and some flavor of Rumplemintz. He didn't know what the shot was called, although he proffered "De-con."
Normal club trappings aside, Fiction's latest contribution to the music culture in Knoxville is "Touch" parties. DJ Slink, Gary Mitchell (owner of Fiction, Blue Cats and the defunct Moose's Music Hall), John VanHoff and a few other "motivated people" (according to da slinksta) have teamed up to bring top national and international DJs to K'town. The club's continuing evolution should be interesting to see... er, hear.