After almost 10 years in downtown Dallas, the House of Blues' Foundation Room is preparing for an overhaul. Opened in 2007, the chain establishment owned by LiveNation is undergoing a transformation into a themed lounge that will feature regular DJ appearances. Once a private room reserved for members and after-parties, the spot is now preparing to open its doors to the masses. Dallas will be the second city in the House of Blues chain to test the concept, after Las Vegas.
Victor Sutter, the Foundation Room's vice president, leads the creative and operational teams of these rooms in House of Blues locations all over the country. He's now here in Dallas, preparing to open on March 11.
“We’re exposing music, but also curating a scene,” Sutter says.
Geared toward both early hours and nightlife with a lounge vibe, the lights will be up early and dimmed at night. It can be a place to have a drink and eat before or after catching a show at House of Blues or the Cambridge Room. But live music is also a priority for the Foundation Room itself, Sutter says. Thursday nights are slated for local live music — mostly free shows — although touring acts may pop up from time to time. Friday and Saturday nights will feature live DJ sets, showcasing both touring and local talent.
The change may help the House of Blues regain its relevance. The music venue landscape has certainly changed in recent years, with the reemergence of a healthy Deep Ellum and venues there that offer their own VIP treatment. But the Foundation Room may also have its own niche to work in. There are plenty of apartment dwellers and out-of-towners in hotels nearby, and plenty of office workers.
The Foundation Room could become a convenient place for these people to catch local music without diving into Deep Ellum. Some people have no problem searching for a parking space, hiking to a destination where they will flag down a bartender for a beer or mixed drink, standing on concrete while a band plays, and eating a slice of pizza or a donut after the show.
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But others enjoy the options of valet parking, a server, comfortable seating and an extensive food and drink menu. Plush lounge seating is being added to create areas comfortable enough to seem like living rooms, with VIP sections that offer increased privacy. The lighting system has been updated to react to music and allow for special effects programming. The sound system has also been upgraded.
There will be statues, ceilings and temple carvings that date back hundreds of years. There will be artwork from all over the world, including pieces from the Middle East, India, Tibet and Morocco. “There are very few places where you get to party and hang out while looking at priceless artifacts,” Sutter says. “It’s not a cookie-cutter venue. Everything we put in this room is authentic. It’s amazing to have these pieces and be able to showcase them to the public.”
There's also a membership program that sharpens the edge of the VIP experience. Members get access to pre-sale tickets with premium seat locations, a priority entrance, personal concierge service, invites to meet and greets and even lockers for beverages and cigars.
Sutter sees Dallas as a natural choice for an early attempt to test out this new incarnation of the Foundation Room. “It’s an emerging cosmopolitan city,” he says. “The nightlife goes right along those lines — enjoying art, music, fine drinks, great food, hanging out and being social. It has all those great pieces of a big city, but with a sense of community from charity, local artists and local brews.”