During the past few years, Detroit has seen a lot of new clubs open. Many have succeeded financially while others have failed. There have been, however, few cases where good taste and bigger budgets have coexisted. If patrons want dominatrix midgets and fireworks, we’ve got it. If you want to valet park your Lamborghini and listen to vapid dance music, Detroit can accommodate you, Mr. Suave. For the rest of us, though, options have been scarce, forcing many nightlife aficionados into semihibernation or early retirement. Whatever our symptoms, we Detroiters need quality dance-floor relief. And Panacea — which flamboyantly means “cure-all” — may have the remedy for many of our clubbing ills.
Currently, several Detroit-area clubs seem to emulate those of other cities. Be it the carnival atmosphere of Ibiza or the “Miami Vice” look of South Beach, these places seem to focus on selling image first.
“Let’s face it,” says Carl Craig, “most business owners don’t understand the art of making music — they just care about making money and being cool. So if having strippers swinging from the ceiling on candy canes and snorting cocaine is the new cool thing to do, you better believe there will be 10 of them in each club.”
When asked what Panacea has in mind for bucking this trend, promotions director Chris Chung simply states that, “Panacea will be Detroit’s answer to responsible hedonism. Our plan is to run a straight-up nightclub. No flamethrowers. No robots. No glow sticks. Well … maybe robots.”
But Panacea doesn’t wish to alienate any potential clubgoers. The look of the club is tastefully chic. Upscale yet unpretentious appears to be Panacea’s goal. Speaking of the club’s aesthetic, Craig claims that “[Panacea] will bring a vision to Detroit that I don’t think has been attempted here.”
Not just for those looking to impress, affordability is also part of Panacea’s mix. As Chung points out, Detroit is unique because “the percentage of twentysomething people with a disposable income in Detroit is different than that of New York or L.A.” By providing reduced admission before 11 p.m., Chung hopes to offer “an economical way for everyone to get in the club.”
For the inaugural event, Craig seemed the ideal person to pop the proverbial cork. Says Chung of the club’s respect for Craig, “I can’t think of another DJ in the world who embodies the spirit and drive of Detroit better than Carl Craig. He makes me proud to be a Detroiter.”
Likewise, it seems that Panacea will be personally invested in Detroit’s culture. Chung’s long-term goals for Panacea are clear. “We don’t want an extended honeymoon with Detroit. A lot of clubs honeymoon for a year or two, then fade out. We want a long marriage with Detroit.” Presumably, this marriage will be sustained by a solid foundation of residencies and themed club nights.
With an impressive roster of local DJs holding forth (Brian Gillespie, Magda, Carlos Souffront, Mike Huckaby, Mike Clark, Houseshoes, IBEX, Michael Geiger and Scott Zacharias, to name a few), Panacea seeks to be nothing less than Detroit’s world-class venue for substantive dance music. Although Craig will surely set a high standard for Panacea this New Year’s Eve, the variety and talent of its residents promise to keep the club vibrant year-round.
Speaking as someone who’s both witnessed and carved many cultural milestones in Motown, Craig believes that Panacea couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Right now, Detroit needs new business ventures. We need new chic restaurants that actually serve good food. We need high-quality grocery stores. And we need wonderful clubs. I truly believe that the goal of a club should be to become legendary. Panacea will be one of those legendary clubs.”Legends excite Robert Gorell whenever he finds them for Metro Times. E-mail him at [email protected]