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Club 314 has followed Club Onyx into the darkness. Shortly after the Wreck Room closed five years ago, the void left behind was filled by the opening of Club Onyx at 314 East 13th Avenue, which served as the scene alternative to mainstream lairs like the Church, drawing drinkers and dancers from Denver's underground community. Outside its forbidding, black, windowless exterior, there was occasionally a hearse in the parking lot; at the door was body-built bouncer Charles Edwards; inside, there were often goth-night attendees in ghoulish attire.
But that subculture moved on, turned off by changes that owner Joseph Stewart was making at the club -- including hip-hop nights and fetish parties -- and upset over online attacks in local goth postings. And then there were the club's personnel problems, with Stewart letting go the black-clad community's respected members. Says one promoter, "All I know is that everybody who ever worked with him wouldn't work with him again."
Earlier this year, Stewart gave the place a new coat of paint, bright accoutrements and a new name, Club 314. But the crowds didn't come back, so he sold the building to Tyson Murray. That should come as good news to local scenesters: Murray's already a known commodity through his alt-country group, the Railbenders, and he's one of the people behind the transformation of the old South Broadway bar next to Pasquini's into Tavern 13.
Murray's naming his new place Benders -- an allusion to the band, rather than to notorious drinking jags -- and is working to create a neighborhood bar that will fit in with this part of Capitol Hill. His improvements began immediately after the sale closed July 1; he started by cleaning up all the needles lying around the back patio and then installing a new fence. Some of the structural components will have to wait -- "putting in a couple of windows" is key, Murray says -- since he's hoping to get Benders open this Wednesday, July 21.
After that, Friday and Saturday nights at Benders will feature a range of local artists; the rest of the week is under development. Let there be light!