If you spend any time south of downtown, you've probably wandered into Absinthe Lounge at least once, but maybe you were too drunk to remember. The chill atmosphere is a favorite for intimate local jazz shows, even though it can get a little rowdy during happy hour when the $3 wells are flowing. Maybe you threw a party in the VIP Lounge, where things got even rowdier. Whatever your sentimental memories about Absinthe Lounge, you'd better get ready to pay your last respects tonight.
To be clear: Absinthe isn't closing. But it is moving to a new space in the same area. Formerly housed at South Side on Lamar, Absinthe will now move to the former Old Brooklyn Jazz Club, just down Lamar Street. For owner Kevin Christensen, the move was a no-brainer.
"South Side on Lamar wouldn't let us have a kitchen, and I always wanted to segue from a bar to a restaurant," he says. "The perfect opportunity opened up when the Old Brooklyn Jazz Club space became available. I wanted to relocate, but I also wanted to stay in the Cedars. I love the area."
Absinthe has long been a fixture of the Dallas bar scene. When the absinthe trend peaked in the early 2010s, they were right there, with a varied selection of bottles and an attention to traditional service techniques for the infamous spirit. Even as the public's interest in the wormwood-infused booze waned, Absinthe cultivated a dedicated following of music junkies who also enjoy cheap drinks and good company.
In their 10-year history, Absinthe was also able to cover a lot of ground musically with an eclectic mix of live shows, DJs and open mic nights. In their final week at South Side on Lamar, Absinthe has hosted reggae, techno and old-school hip-hop DJ sets, along with live jazz. And this isn't out of the ordinary. There is generally some kind of music going on at Absinthe Lounge, and that's a tradition that they plan to keep firmly intact, even as Christensen takes on the bar food scene with the bar's new kitchen.
Christensen also hopes to expand the programming in the VIP Lounge with live bands, DJs, spoken word performances and burlesque shows. These events were already part of what was going on at Absinthe in its current location, but the new space will feature a bigger stage, and more room for concertgoers. The entire venue will be wrapped in Steampunk-themed decor (a personal favorite of Christensen's) and help maintain the old-school, dimly lit vibe that was cultivated at the old location.
On their last night open at South Side on Lamar, Absinthe will host a pretty kick-ass going away party. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. spoken word collective Mad Swirl will host an open mic night, where you can show off all that pitiful poetry that you've been scribbling in all those notebooks. Once that's over, DJs Specialblends, Luxe Tone and Lord Buck will spin until 2 a.m. We have a feeling the party will not end there.
After tonight, Absinthe will close for a month to complete construction and finish preparing the new space. In the meantime, you can pick up an Absinthe VIP card, which entitles the holders to cheap-ass drinks -- like $3 wells and $4 calls -- for life. These cards were previously only available to South Side on Lamar residents, but Christensen assures us that anyone with an interest in cheap booze can pick up their own VIP card throughout the month of May. Absinthe Lounge will reopen to the public on May 1.
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