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Sol Lounge brightens up Central West End nightlife

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Gregory Elmore has been the general manager at Sol Lounge for about six months now ("give or take a month," he says), and his passion for the evolution of the St. Louis nightlife scene is undeniable. Under Elmore's direction, the popular Central West End destination has featured acts such as LA Riots, Le Castle Vania and JFK of MSTRKRFT.

When he's not keeping his finger glued to the pulse of the nightlife, Elmore is a student, model and owner of an artist management and booking agency called Deviant. The latter enterprise informs, but doesn't always dictate, his work at Sol. "I have several artists signed and book a lot of tours through St. Louis and through other states as well," he explains. "Some shows here are in-house, by me as the GM and Brian [Schmitz] as the owner, and others are brought in specifically by Deviant." Elmore took time out to discuss everything from the mega-popular Sol DJ night Propaganda and his most memorable event to the international phenomenon of electronic music.

Diana Benanti: You guys have been bringing in some big names in "blog house" lately. Can you name some of your favorites? Anyone coming up you're particularly excited about?

Gregory Elmore: "Blog house," what an interesting term. I guess that applies to more of the indie-dance/nü-disco shows we've thrown. We have, yeah. All of the shows thus far I've really enjoyed, and all for very different reasons. Fortunately, we've established really good relationships with almost all of the artists that have come through Sol, and they all love the club. Now that I'm friends with most of them, I feel like a dad choosing which kid he likes best. I'd have to say if I had to choose two from the indie-dance/nü-disco category, then it would definitely be Le Castle Vania and LA Riots. JFK and Felix Cartal along with the others were great shows, but something about Le Castle Vania and LA Riots really meant a lot to me.

Le Castle Vania was a really emotional ride for me. Sounds cheesy, I know. But you have to understand this town. I love St. Louis, but we're definitely behind when it comes to certain things. We had a lot of success with some of the other shows we threw, and Le Castle Vania was definitely a little more risky. Dylan [Eiland] has never signed with any of the major indie labels, but he's torn through the blogs like Hype Machine, El3ctronight and several others I pay attention to. So I guess you could say the show meant a lot because it showed me that people here really do pay attention to things like that.

LA Riots, because it was my first show I had ever thrown here. I remember announcing it and seeing how crazy people went for the show. That certainly made me, and all of us here, feel great. But ultimately, for me it's the most important because it was my first and the first indie-dance show Sol had done. It was a huge success, and it fueled the fire I have for throwing shows in St. Louis. People supported — that's it right there. It doesn't happen without them. I'm grateful, sincerely.

Is there a particular night that stands out in your memory as being, for lack of a better term, totally awesome?

That's easy, Le Castle Vania. Gosh, where to even begin with that show? I have never seen people go that crazy. Everything was just right for that show. [There were] a ton of new faces in the club, along with all of our regulars. People just came out en masse to support. It was the energy level, Dylan, his set — everything. At one point in the night I was on top of the speakers just pumping people up even more. Brian [Schmitz], along with Corey McCarthy [COR(E)YOGRAPHY], were freaking out, just grabbing bottles of water and spraying them all over people. It was a ride. I'm getting goose bumps just thinking about it. Yes, definitely Le Castle Vania. Oh, and he'll be back September 10!

What are the best nights to come to Sol? What nights or DJs are the most popular?

Propaganda has to be my favorite. My partner, Corey McCarthy, and I, started Propaganda awhile back. It's every Friday night upstairs, and in the main room for big national/international indie-dance acts like the ones mentioned above. It's just religious. It's always fun and crazy. The best part about it is, it's [based around] a simple mindset that we had when it began: fun. We love the blog movement and the resurgence of electronic music borne on the backs of indie-dance and nü-disco artists like Justice, MSTRKRFT, the Bloody Beetroots, Boys Noize [and] LA Riots, so much that we started our own blog, doctrineofpropaganda.blogspot.com. It's just a blast, and it's been bigger and bigger every single week. People come out and dance all night. It's good friends and an open community of people. We're really proud of it.

In addition to Propaganda, this is where this gets hard. Rob Lemon plays monthly here, and it's always a good time. Rob is a great guy and gets it. His following is strong, and his fans are loyal. It's an amazing thing to see. There's also our newest residents, Anth3m. Anth3m is a monthly party that takes place here, and it's great. It's a lot of progressive house and trance, really good stuff. Forensic and Tsikada, the two gentlemen that started it, are both really great guys. And like Rob, they get it.

For the uninitiated, why come to Sol over other clubs? What sets it apart?

This is a great question. Cut electronic music completely out of it for a second. Let's focus on nightlife. Why do people go out? What purpose does it serve? A lot of people, if you asked them that question, would have an array of answers based off stereotypes...what people think everyone does when they go out to a "club." The drugs, one-night stands, all of that stuff. Truth of the matter is, you'll never be able to escape some of that. But stop for a second, put that off to the side and just think. We live in a world that is crazy, truly. Life is hard, as you know. Day to day, it's hard. For us, Brian, myself and others, it isn't about any of that stuff I talked about above it. For us, it's an escape.

Look, you spend your entire workweek, your life, working, being stressed. We want to give you something. If we can provide a different environment to you, a literal escape, that you come into and leave everything at the door, then we've done our job. We want you to have genuine fun, someplace where you can go and have a reasonably priced drink served by a bartender that knows your name, that plays music you can dance to and where you can see your friends. Past that, where if you're single or new in town, [it's a place] where you can go and meet new people or hear new music from around the world. You can chat with a guy or a girl and buy them a drink and say, "Hey, would ya like to dance?" That's what we want people to feel.

Digging further into Sol, it's different. Plain and simple, it isn't complicated. I feel like people here are so used to stereotypical "clubs." Sol is certainly not that. First and foremost, it's [an] old renovated house. How nutty is that? It's got a history and feel. It feels cozy and warm like a home because it is! It isn't perfect. I think my favorite thing is when people walk in and they're taken aback. They don't know what to think. They walk through the main entrance, which is the front of the house, and you can see this puzzled look on their faces. I follow behind them sometimes as they walk into the main room. The look on their faces when they see it just blows me away every time. That's when I smile the biggest.

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