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  A Little Intimacy with MJQ
by T. Chanté LaGon

How did Luda' and Jermaine Dupri leave MJQ Concourse off the guest list in "Welcome to Atlanta?" It's a wonder, because this down-under club has consistently shaped the sound of Atlanta and has been around longer than J.D. is tall. Lunar talks to MJQ ambassador Steve DeNiro, for the club plays a part in the make up of Atlanta's nightlife scene, just like the difference in music and people—get a buffet plate, MJQ is dishing up rhythm and vibes family style.

(the photos are some of the MJQ regulars)

Booth by the Cafe at MJQ When did MJQ first open?
"Around March 1994, right underneath the Ponce De Leon Hotel."

Who were the club's original founders?
"A very tall Chinese Swede by the name of George Chang."

What does MJQ stand for?
Originally, it stood for Modern Jazz Quartet.

Why did MJQ open?
At the time, the only smaller scale clubs were Yin Yang and Nomenclature (and I'm not even 100 percent sure Nomenclature was open at that time). Each of these places had their own distinct vibe, and with that, I think George felt the need to fill a void.

On top of that, he wanted a spot where he could hear the type of sounds he was into. Punk and Brit pop was his main thing. The dub was heavy early on, and what we know as dance music was creeping out into the Midtown arena as well. MJQ was the only place at the time that was consistently nurturing new sounds, mainly jungle/drum and bass and deep house as we know it today.

The scene at that time was in a later stage of development. A lot of the jocks that are making noise now and repping Atlanta found inspiration in what George was doing. He cultivated innovation. Hazeus, Gnosis, Sinceelay, J Stroke, Daniel Gresham, Mr. Scary, Kool Karl Injex, Justin, Marc Alan Gray, Swivel, Scott Herron (Prefuse73) even used to bartend there.

Who currently owns and manages the club?
A guy named Ben is the owner. Steve is like the Ambassador to MJQ.

What's the bottom line?
"With any club, before there's money or anything else, it should be about fun. If you focus on the front and the quality, everything else will fall into place."

Friends at MJQ Location, location...
"MJQ has a distinct gift. There's no other clubs in that area. It's avoided a lot of the things that have hit Midtown. It's a blessing for MJQ to be where it is. It's in a world all its own, with its own regulars."

What is MJQ known for?
"The only place to hear good music."

What's the overall vibe?
"The DJs are so personable. They treat everyone as family. It's the whole family vibe. It's all a common ground... basically, the music."

If you had to describe MJQ in 1 to 3 words, what would they be?
"Maximum jocularity quotient." (That's the scientific term for the amount of energy that it takes to make someone laugh.)

Special projects?
The notorious theme parties like House of Jack, Naughty Girl Sleepover, Petting Zoo. Steve's currently trying to do more of that.

What's the typical MJQ-head like?
"It spans the board from the ultra-sleek mod to the head-wrapped bohemian. Everyone is made to feel welcome, no matter what."

What would a couple regulars do if MJQ went out of business?
"I don't really know what I'd do... I guess I'd just have to comb the city until I find another decent club. Coincidentally, it'll probably be where everyone that I love from MJQ will be. I could see somewhere like Nomenclature being the replacement since they have more space now and better DJs. Or any underground party/club that happens to fill the bill for variety in music and cheap drinks."—Murph

"That's a hard one. It has become one of our crew... one of my friends. I can't go anywhere else in town and get big drinks that are heavy on the gin, light on the tonic. When it was housed beneath the Ponce de Leon Hotel, it still had that same feeling in spite of the fact it was in the basement of hooker/heroin hell!

In reality, all my friends would still be around, but it's just not the same if it's not combined with Cozy spinning in the cafe I apologize for going on and on about the dump, but hey, it is our dump and I would miss it desperately."—Maria Portgee

Doing the beer dance at MJQ Lineup?

Monday—sometimes Cock Nite.

Wednesday—"That's the foundation. The DJ turnaround has run the gamut, with our current residents being Jonathan Edwards and Ian Lee." Also Wednesdays, Cafe side—Cozy Shawn spinning funk and soul classics.

Thursdays—"Internal parties like Roof Down and Slutphonography. The idea is to focus on creating a more intimate house party vibe. We encourage the DJs to play stuff they never get a chance to play."
Second Thursdays—Jelly Jazz with Kieran of Earthtone Sound System.

First & Second Fridays—Dusty Than Digital's J Sun & DJ Detail host No Static At All. Really good hip-hop.
Third Fridays—usually special occasion scenarios, like ?uestlove, who recently rocked the shit out of the Q.
Last Friday—neo-soul.

Saturday—best deep house night in the city with Cullen Cole and Kai Alce."

Address and phone number?
736 Ponce de Leon Place across from Kroger on Ponce de Leon Ave.

Web site?

From I-85 N: Get off at North Ave. exit. Turn left off exit. Go straight to Peachtree St. Turn left. Next light is Ponce de Leon Ave. Turn right onto Ponce de Leon Ave. Go straight. Slow down as you approach big orange building on left and Kroger on right. Turn left at Ponce de Leon Place. MJQ is on right.

From I-85 S: Get off at Peachtree St. exit. Take Peachtree to Ponce de Leon Ave. Head East, away from downtown and Krispy Kreme. Keep straight. Slow down as you approach big orange building on left and Kroger on right. Make that left at the big orange building (Ponce de Leon Place). MJQ is on right.

From intown: Find Ponce De Leon Ave. Head East, away from downtown and Krispy Kreme. Keep straight. Slow down as you approach big orange building on left and Kroger on right. Make that left at the big orange building (Ponce de Leon Place). MJQ is on right.

Any closing thoughts?
Although MJQ is well known for its premier Saturday house night, Steve says ya'll better recognize. "Jelly Jazz and No Static at All are going really well. They're just as strong and impactful as Saturday. MJQ is not just about house."

Up next?
Be on the lookout for the summer series at MJQ which started in May with ?uestlove of The Roots. The series is called "The Invisible Season Sessions" and has two or three more phases to go before phasing out in October or November.

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