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  The Playhouse
by Sabrina Sexton Weil

The Playhouse is a weekly hosted by Vinyl Boy/Chrome Productions. It's really changed the face of the Atlanta scene, proving that a weekly Friday night can happen in the city. On their half-year anniversary, in December of 1999, Chad Smith, the promoter, spoke with Lunar about the Playhouse.

Lunar: When did the Playhouse start?

Chad: The Playhouse started July 2. Boy, it's been about a half a year?

Lunar: Why did you start the Playhouse?

Chad: There are a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is that I love the music and mainly trance. I had the pleasure of bringing in Dave Seaman for my fashion show back in April, and that was really big for me. To have the opportunity to meet someone that is responsible for the music I love and get to know them, as a person, is a big deal for me. So that's where the Playhouse idea came from. I wanted to be able to bring in these individuals from everywhere that were responsible for the music that I love and meet them, and expose Atlanta to some very talented individuals that they wouldn't be able to see usually.

Another reason for doing the Playhouse was there wasn't anything to do on Friday nights that had a really cool club atmosphere, kind of like Sol used to have. I had this idea of making something like Sol but taking it to a different level in worldwide talent every week and creating this environment with decorations that no one in Atlanta has seen before and keeping the price really reasonable. I'm a very creative person and I love to entertain people, so this was my way of doing that. The Masquerade gives us that opportunity to create those atmospheres that I want to achieve.

So many people frowned when I told them that I was going to be doing this weekly thing at the Masquerade because of this image it had. I personally wasn't looking at its image but the venue itself. The Masquerade has to be one of the best venues in Atlanta with three huge rooms, a deck and music park in the back which holds 4,000 people. I felt through the decorations and help from the Masquerade that we could turn it into a really respected club night. We have come a long way from that July 2 date. The sound has improved so much, the lighting's coming along, the decorations keep evolving...pretty soon were going to be having a full 3d animated laser in there every week and the security have been nothing but super in the past three months. The Masquerade wants the Playhouse to succeed as much as we do, so they are helping out all the time to improve things.

Lunar: Why do you decorate the club every week? What are you trying to achieve?

Chad: My main goal in creating atmosphere is to have everyone in a very festive mood. I believe when you go out you should leave all your stress behind and be able to relax and have the best time you possibly can. With the decorations, you as a promoter can control some of the atmosphere, other than leaving it up to the DJ or the people. The decorations allow you to have it like a little candy land or on the classy side. We try to switch the decorations around and make new ones all the time to keep everything very fresh so people don't expect the same thing over and over. We want it to be a special night for everyone, just not a normal club with lights and sound.

Lunar: How long does it take you to decorate every week?

Chad: Ooooo boy. The time!!! We get in there around 12 and it takes anywhere from 4 to 9 hours to set up all the decorations. I have people all the time say "I don't understand why you do all the decorating" or "how do you keep doing that week in and week out?" I love to create things and to have a club at my disposal every week to create something is so much fun, not work. Plus that's one of the big things with the Playhouse is the decorations. If it weren't for the decorations I feel the Playhouse wouldn't still be going today.

Lunar: You have taken some risks in bringing new talent to Atlanta. What has the response been like?

Chad: We have had nothing but great response from everyone when we bring new talent or talent that hasn't been here for years. We have had some great DJ's and live pa's come through the doors of the Playhouse: Slacker, Nick Warren, Jerry Bonham, Quivver, Prophecy, Taylor, Robbie Hardkiss, Kimball Collins, Sandra Collins, Jon Bishop, Baby Anne, Rick West...

Lunar: Why do you think the Playhouse has done so well in such a tough market?

Chad: I believe it's a combination of things, not just one. One, a lot of hard work on our part in promoting, decorating and bringing in the right talent. Two, trying to keep the price reasonable for everyone so it doesn't break you to see such great talent. Three, the support of all my friends, DJ's, the Masquerade and all those who want to have a club night to enjoy the music.

Lunar: What do you have in store for the New Year?

Chad: We have got a lot of cool things planned for the New Year. We are installing a lot of new sound in the club, so I'm really excited about that. We also have a full 3d animated laser that will be in the club starting inanuary, which should add a little bit of flavor every week. The decorations are going to just get better and better. There are so many new things that I'm going to be trying to do with the club as far as atmosphere and decorations go. Talent...well, we have some really big guns coming in starting in February. January is going to wrap up with our locals and regionals only series, and then we have some people coming in that are going to rock the Playhouse. Some repeaters from last year and a ton of new faces that are on the world level. Plus we're going to be working with some other promoters on certain nights to combine forces and make the Playhouse and even better night.

Lunar: Who can we see at the Playhouse in the coming weeks?

Chad: Well, we are going to be finishing our locals and regionals only series with DJ's like Rick Sierra, Chris Lucid, Met, Greg Sparks, Hyst, Flooresence, Frequinci, Spun G, Gene Carbonell, DJ Raskal, Beautiful Dan, Sync and many more. The cost is $7 but only $5 with our little password that can be found on the Lunar forum or se-raves. The last Friday in January my good friend DJ Santana will be back and maybe Friction in there somewhere to make up his missed date with Nick Warren.

Lunar: Is there anything else you would like the readers of Lunar to know?

Chad: I think I pretty much covered everything except one thing. I would like to give a huge thank you to Hope Tribe. They have supported us so much and have been rocking the second room every week.

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