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Mark A. Manger

A Shot of Tequila

Sick of too-hip-for-you nightclubs, with their complicated cocktails, goateed pretty boys and bitchy size-2 cocktail waitresses?

Then what you need is an unpretentious bar with a blaring sound system and beer-sippin' folks looking for love. You need a tavern whose dress code demands shoes that can't be sullied by tipped-over drinks or parking-lot surprises.

Welcome to Tequila le Club, a Spanish-language nightclub with honest grit and mucho, mucho más.


Tequila le Club

5115 Federal Boulevard
Open Thursdays through Sundays
hours vary, 303-480-0302

Midweek, you'd barely notice Tequila le Club's nondescript storefront, wedged in a North Federal strip mall between a Spanish video store and a head shop. The black plastic covering the windows and the hand-painted sign are hardly inspiring. But the Coronas flow and the boots strut every Thursday through Sunday night, as Tequila le Club hosts Mexican music for a predominantly Latino crowd.

The club jams almost exclusively with cumbia, norteño, Tejano and similar south-of-the-border music, some of which is unfamiliar to the gringo ear. We're not talking salsa here: This is accordions-blaring-to-a-wicked-polka-beat music. (Check out Radio Tricolor at 96.5 FM or AM's KMXA/1090, KBNO/1290 and KJME/1390 if you're curious.) And when there's no band, the DJ throws in merengue beats. Generic pop and dance-club tunes? Never.

Cumbia may be an acquired taste to the uninitiated, but Tequila owner Angel Chacón swears that those bouncy strains are what pack his 6,000-square-foot establishment.

"To be honest, this is the only place that plays all kinds of music," says Chacón. "Other clubs, they don't have the -- how do you say it? -- variety."

Some Latino bars tend to focus on just one style of music. But Tequila le Club keeps things fresh with live performances by local outfits such as Grupo Libertad (which returns on August 24-25, with the appropriately named Agave), as well as big-name acts from Colombia and other parts of Latin America. Each Sunday, the lineup features traditional mariachis and free menudo for all. Seem like nothing gets a fiesta started like hot tripe.

On occasional Thursdays -- the club's busiest night -- Chacón invites revelers up on stage to sing with the band. The three top performers score $100 each. "Stop by on a Thursday," he says. "You can't even move inside."

Chacón, who's from Mexico City, opened Tequila le Club twelve years ago, after spending twenty years in sales management with the local Spanish media. The teetotaling, tea-guzzling owner welcomes patrons to his club with an unassuming smile. Present every night ("It's my life; I don't think I could do anything else"), Chacón keeps a close eye on patrons via four closed-circuit cameras positioned throughout the building.

Not that he needs to. With 33 employees and a stern-looking security crew, scuffling and other typical bar brouhaha is kept to a minimum.

The majority of the 400-plus patrons who regularly fill the nightclub are men, many of whom radiate puro machismo -- but Chacón makes no apologies for the venue's hormone-heavy atmosphere. In the end, it's the music, in all its authentic glory, that truly makes the Tequila le Club experience.

It's like a shot of its namesake drink: a bit of a jolt, but worth the buzz.


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