Outside Beta 2.0 on Friday night, October 4, men in suits stood guard. The club at 1909 Blake Street had ropes, cops and private security, everything needed to control the crowd that wasn't there.
All around Beta, downtown was bustling. Across the street, the Summit had a mob outside. The Falling Rock Tap House next door was a sardine can. Even the hot dog stand on the corner had a line. But Beta, which had been shuttered since its January 5 grand finale, looked asleep.
Over the past couple of years, the club had faced an increasingly competitive market. The San Francisco-based Las Vegas-style Temple nightclub arrived in town in late 2017; international promoters AEG and Live Nation have cut into DJ and producer nights, luring talent away from clubs and into concert venues that had traditionally been reserved for bands.
In late 2018, 33-year-old Jacob Morton died of an overdose outside Beta. Weeks later, the owners announced that they were ready to sell, move on and try new things.
Though Brad Roulier tried to peddle the club, the deal didn’t pan out, he told Denver Business Journal. So he decided to remodel and relaunch the space, outfitting it with a swimming pool and a new vision: Beta 2.0, set to open in the summer. But permitting and construction took longer than expected, so he rescheduled the launch for fall. And even then, two planned sneak peeks — the last one slated for Thursday, October 3 — were bumped as the club made last-minute fixes and struggled to pass inspections.
Finally, on the morning of October 4, the club got approval for the doors to open. Around 4:30 p.m. that day, Beta confirmed that its "Pardon Our Dust" launch event would go on that night.That didn’t leave much time to promote the bash, so the thin crowds were no surprise.
People on the guest list went up one ramp and those with tickets or buying them up another. Tickets online cost $11. At the door, they were $20 for some and $10 for others, seemingly based on how cool you'd make the club look. Me? I paid $20.
Perhaps admission should have been entirely free for an event called "Pardon Our Dust." And dusty it was. While curtains were hung, VIP tables were set, the surround sound system was as stunning as ever and the digital animations lining the balcony and engulfing the DJ booth were mesmerizing, the space and experience felt very much like works in progress. The smell of sawdust was never replaced by the smell of sweating bodies. The dance floor was largely empty for hours.
But Beta 2.0 was trying. The cocktail waitresses were wearing leotards and grins, shaking ambivalently as though they were paid to have fun. There were security guards with good posture and beefy pecs ready to tackle miscreants. Management, decked out in suits, grinned and glad-handed those patrons who showed up.
Imperfect, the first DJ of the night, was a highlight, with his swoosh of a hairdo and brooding disposition, along with his dirty techno — despite a grating Pink Floyd remix. A couple of lanky men — the committed sort who would be dancing whether they were in the club, on a bus or in an outhouse — did a futuristic version of the robot. Still, the vibe was similar to the first hours of a middle-school dance, with most people too shy — or sober — to get things started.
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One frenetic camera guy, definitely the most enthusiastic person there, doubled as a squealing Beta docent, zipping around the nightclub, snapping photos, describing the evening as "a very soft opening" and talking about how only 30 percent of the lighting rigs were installed, but still doing everything in his power to make the night feel special.
After the second DJ of the night, APAR, played a mix of hip-hop and house, with some muddy remixes of Kendrick Lamar that deadened the party and ruined "Pray for Me," it was clear that the party was picking up at a rate slower than my eyes were drooping, so I did one last walk around the club, checked out the site of the (still future) swimming pool and the ample outdoor smoking section, and headed back out onto Blake Street.
Pushing my way through the crowded hot dog line, I hoped that a flood of people would pour into Beta 2.0 after I left and the party would rage until closing time. Dust to dust.