Minneapolis's CLUB 3 DEGREES installed (16) N90 modules and (4) NS1 LF modules in addition to a slew of McCauley subwoofers, stage monitors and various fills. The installation was fully integrated by Dunamus Light & Sound of Minneapolis. Dunumus worked with McCauley's SYSTEM DESIGN GROUP to develop a sound design for the new space.
Enter the three-level, 18,000-square-foot club—a new space inaugurated in October—and you won't find any overtly religious symbols. In the lounge below, patrons can shoot pool and order pizzas and smoothies from the bar (the closest you'll get to a stimulant is Red Bull). Upstairs, they can experience acts with a state-of-the-art sound and light system. The price tag for all the renovations: $3 million, raised through donations and loans guaranteed by the club's founder, the Living Word Christian Center.
A nonprofit organization, Club 3 Degrees is still trying to become financially self-supporting—not an easy task when you don't sell liquor. There are other official prohibitions as well: no mosh pits, no slow songs, no secular cover tunes. Bands must play Christian-themed music and share their faith onstage.
After all, Club 3 Degrees is a ministry. Its aim ever since it was started in an old dive bar in 1989: to use a funkier form of praise to lure those souls who might be leery of a traditional church. Twice a week, the club offers church services. One recent Sunday evening, after the house band had fired up the flock, Steve Aleksuk, 47—Nancy's husband and also a pastor—delivered a
sermon about "tactics of warfare" against "the Kingdom of Darkness," sounding as much like a surfer as a preacher (on the topic of angels: they're "bad-looking dudes," not "fat little babies with wings").
But by and large, the club serves as a social space for the already converted. L. C. McCoy, 28, shunned mainstream nightlife because of its pernicious influences. At Club 3 Degrees, "I've seen every race, every denomination of Christian," he says. "They're all out here having a ball in a very safe, inclusive environment." Though ultraconservative Christians may grumble about the dancing, times are changing. The nightclub phenomenon shows "a softening of evangelical identity," says Jeffrey Mahan of Denver's Iliff School of Theology. Young adults "are looking for forms of Christianity that are culturally coherent for them."
Club Three Degrees is a new facility, moving its musical ministry from its out-of-the-way location in northeast Minneapolis to the Warehouse District, the front lines of the Twin Cities club scene.
After failed attempts over the past seven years to raise money and acquire a prime location downtown, the New Union this summer secured an 18,000-square-foot space at 113 N. 5th St. across the street from the nightclub Quest.
Its foray into the already crowded club scene is costing $3 million, which includes acquiring the space and renovating it into a three-level club with a capacity of up to 1,700. That compares with 1,600 in the main room at Quest and 1,400 in the main room at First Avenue.
It could have cost more,
but much of the electrical work, wallboard installation and painting was done by the more than 250 volunteers -- most members of Living Word -- who collectively give more than 4,000 hours a month to keep the club going. Still, it's an expensive and risky venture.
"We love all people, and there is a whole world of people in the streets and in the clubs who live at night," Aleksuk said. "With not much around, Northeast was not the best location. We need to be where the people are late at night. It's an aspect of society that we have not reached."
Aleksuk said those who walk into the club "won't be hit over the head with a Bible." Counseling will be available to those who ask for it.
Most of the preaching will come by way of the local and national music acts that will perform on the club's two stages.
The plan for Club Three Degrees has garnered mostly positive reviews from nearby clubs, restaurants and the Minneapolis Warehouse District Business Association, which welcomes the diversity that the Christian club will bring to the neighborhood.
"It's bringing a new variant of entertainment; we think that is exciting," said Dario Anselmo, owner of the nearby Fine Line Music Cafe and president of the business association. "We are not adding into the problems of alcohol and how it affects people. You don't get to do that too often."
Tony Harris, chief operating officer for Quest, said, "We think it's a positive thing for the entertainment community to provide another alternative for consumers to come downtown and have fun."
Uncertain is whether Club Three Degrees can make ends meet in a part of town where there are already more than 80 clubs competing for entertainment dollars in a tight economy, and without revenue from liquor sales.