Since opening at 807 S. 5th St., Club Anything has retained its reputation as Milwaukee's premiere Goth bar, but according to owner Todd Novasic, the tag might no longer apply.
Novasic says that when he opened the club in 2000, it was meant to serve as a continuation of his first bar, The Sanctuary, which had recently closed. But as fate has it, he signed his new mortgage two days prior the Columbine High School shooting and the neighborhood was less than excited about gaining a Goth bar.
After a long legal battle, Novasic opened Club Anything but says his second venture was nothing like the tenebrous experience he created with The Sanctuary.
That's not to say Club Anything isn't still a sunless drinking den and dance club. But, save for a few old church pews near the pool table, the bar itself is far from the dungeon-like experience you might expect from a place that hides its back bar behind steel prison bars.
With his collection of religious icons from his Sanctuary days stashed away in the basement, Novasic says Club Anything isn't the Goth hideaway people think it is. Actually, he says Milwaukee no longer has an authentic Goth bar.
"There scene here is pretty much underground. The older people that are into Goth are all married with kids and the younger people are more fashion Goth than anything. If you ask them, 'What's your favorite Goth music?' they'll say Green Day," he says.
That might help explain some of the recent changes at the Walker's Point bar. While he's not performed major surgery, Novasic and crew have revamped the nine-year-old club with fresh paint, new art and an updated play list.
"We still play Goth music but it's certainly not our focus," he explains. "Our focus is more a blend between industrial -- Nine Inch Nails, Covenant, Front 242, Ladytron -- and college music, as opposed to being stuck in the Goth / industrial genre."
And by "college music," he's not referring to bands like R.E.M and U2, who are often associated with the college rock genre (we asked). He means indie rock bands like The Kills and MGMT -- stuff you can still dance to.
Another change is the addition of the weekly "Un-Happy Hour," Thursdays starting at 4 p.m. The specials are unbeatable -- two-for-one drinks (everything except shots) all night long -- but here's the real draw: it's YouTube video request night.
"What I wanted to do originally was mix in music videos with comedy skits, but the people who show up have more fun requesting things they want to hear," says Novasic. "I'm not going to argue with that!"
There's no censorship here; it's a free-form engagement and he or she who can shout a request louder than the next sees almost instant results on the large television screen (and a handful of other small ones) above the main bar.
From 1980s Tom Waits to controversial Prodigy songs to someone's home video of their "ninja cat," it's an entertaining new twist on an old Milwaukee classic.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”