Memphis Nightlife Comes to its Senses

March 17, 2004

Memphis boasts a rich musical history. This historic city along the banks of the Mississippi River is home to Graceland, the infamous “Memphis Sound” and untold blues bars. But until now a true upscale nightclub experience was impossible to find.

Opened in December 2003, Senses is Memphis’ newest hot spot, a unique, upscale nightclub on par with anything found in Vegas, Miami and New York. Lighting, sound and video suppliers Sound Stage Systems, club designers Jones Baker, and Martin Professional have teamed up to outfit Senses in the latest state of the art, including a Martin Total Supplier package.

”The main thing we wanted to do was give Memphis something it didn’t have,” comments architect/designer William Baker of Jones Baker Design, “a full on, big city nightclub with a myriad of amenities to keep people interested.”

A room to fit any mood
Senses is a multi-faceted space broken into several different rooms. Lighting Designer Karl Kieslich of Sound Stage Systems explains, ”There are basically four different clubs under one roof, each room a different concept, with a different feel and vibe. There’s nothing like it in Memphis or anywhere near Memphis. It’s more like a Vegas or Manhattan club.”

Senses has a room to fit any mood from a mellow, upscale Martini Bar to more upbeat Ultra and Video Lounge areas to a full powered dance room. Kinetic art adorns the lobby in the form of color wash from Alien 05 color-changing fixtures and MiniMAC Maestro-swept Senses logos.

Martini Bar
The somewhat sleepy Martini Bar is an upper scale, soft seating room that LD Karl Kieslich lit in soft architectural tones. In order to create animation and add a “bit of excitement” Karl backlit the bar using Martin Architectural Cyclo 04 fluorescent color changers. The Cyclos illuminate full sheets of plexiglass located directly behind the bottles, providing constantly changing hues and radiant silhouettes of bottles and bartenders.

Ultra Lounge
A visit to the Ultra Lounge begins the journey toward a more upbeat evening. The Ultra Lounge is a plush environment of individual neighborhoods, each with its own furniture group, plasma monitor and X-Box and Play Station® gaming.

Circular carpet designs are reflected in the ceiling where a collage of suspended custom made metalwork, large perforated metal disks inlaid with plexiglass, are backlit with MAC 300 color changers. “We chose MAC 300s with CMY color mixing and variable frost effects specifically because we wanted to take advantage of the movement of the head and sweep color behind the objects,” comments Dave Chesal, Martin US’s Club and Leisure Segment Manager. “It creates a fluency to the room, and with the shadowing of metal work, the plexiglass, the animation of cascading colors and sweeping movement, it’s a unique effect.”

Karl comments on another unique aspect to the room. “We did a neat thing in the center of the room around a four-foot air duct,” he states. “We had to mask the air duct somehow so instead of hiding it we made it a part of the aesthetics. Around it we placed MX-4 scanners, like petals, with the air duct the pistil or center of the flower. It worked out well. The effect is slow moving and real classy.”  The design and materials of the Ultra Lounge, from textured concrete to translucent furniture, only enhance the light show.

Video Lounge
A monochromatic orange Video Lounge anchors the center of the club. Upbeat compared to the Martini Bar but more relaxed than the main club area, the Video Lounge is a ‘meet and greet’ area where orange meets orange in the form of orange furniture, orange walls and an orange backlit U-shaped bar. Here, clubgoers can watch other clubbers move from space to space.

Sound reinforcement from Mach speakers and plasma monitors combine with clusters of MX-4 scanners to generate an upbeat vibe and raise the energy level. “It’s used as a chill-out room but there is also dancing and that’s why we wanted to include intelligent fixtures,” Karl states. “To add excitement to the space we use MX-4 scanners and CX-4 color changers. The CX-4s are positioned around the room in a static position, downlighting gobo, pattern and color onto general areas.”

Main club area
The main nightclub area is roughly 6000 square feet of space with a large focal DJ booth. “In the main club area we didn’t have a lot of ceiling height to work with,” Karl states. “But the owners wanted a world class club so with the help of Dave Chesal we put together two ellipses above the dance floor, both filled with scrim fabric to project onto for a 3-D look.”

“The reason why we used a single cord of 2” pipe to create the elliptical pipes in the ceiling (supplied by Total Structures), was because there wasn’t the headroom to put in a more formal truss structure,” states Dave. “Pipe was rolled into elliptical shapes create over the dancefloor in order to hide some of the industrial ceiling.”

The larger ellipse is lined with MAC 250 profile spots and the smaller with MiniMACs. Flanking the two intersecting ellipses are banks of MX-10 scanners with Atomic strobes.

Atmospheric smoke and mid air projection haze is provided by a four-head Jem Club Smoke system and Jem 24/7 hazers. 

Dancepods in the four corners of the dance floor are highlighted with Wizard effect lights and MX-4 scanners and uplit with Atomic strobes. Around the edge of the room draped VIP booths backlit with Color Kinetics LED overlook the dance floor. All rooms in Senses are run off of LightJockey control with the exception of the Martini Bar, which runs off a Martin 2510 playback control unit.

“The feel is more 1970s mixed with high tech,” adds designer William Baker. “The dance floor itself is quite unique, a vinyl product that looks like crunched up aluminum foil or water. It combines brilliantly with the lightshow to create a lot of movement.”

Mach audio system
Mach audio has been incorporated throughout the club as both the main dance floor system and bar and lounge audio. Karl comments, “For audio we ran Mach speakers throughout all four rooms with Powersoft amplification and Rane DSP for system control. We have four rooms with four separate sound systems and four separate lighting systems. For audio, the owner wanted the ability to mix and match with any of those rooms. For example, if you’re playing dance music in the main club, with a simple flip of the switch you can have that music in the Martini Bar. You have the ability to send sources anywhere throughout all four rooms.”

In the main dance area are Mach M129i speakers, whose high SPL was a necessity for a high-energy dance floor like that of Senses. The dual 12” two way speakers were also incorporated for their ability to rotate the horn and maintain proper dispersion. Accompanying the dual 12” speakers are Mach 18” bass M182i’s. Located in the center of the dance floor as a sound system accessory are Mach tweeter clusters. Mach M-Flex 12s are used as DJ booth monitors. Elsewhere, Mach 3 way 12” M125s and dual 15” bass M152s are used in the Martini Bar, Ultra Lounge and Video Lounge.

George Moronovich, who owns Senses along with his son Dennis, comments, “When people enter the club they are totally impressed. With the atmosphere we’ve created and the people involved in making that happen, we haven’t had a bad experience. It’s exciting when everything comes together like it did. Sound Stage Systems and Martin’s Dave Chesal have been great to work with and have made it an excellent experience. It’s been fun knowing we did it right and I’m really happy we got into it.”

12 x MAC 300
14 x MAC 250
18 x MiniMAC
30 x MX-4
8 x MX-10
12 x CX-4
4 x Wizard
24 x Alien 05
8 x Atomic strobes
1 x Jem Club Smoke System (2 heads)
2 x Jem TechnoHaze
3 x LightJockey
1 x 2510 controller
6 x Mach M129i
8 x Mach M182i
2 x Mach M-Flex 12 
12 x Mach M125
12 x Mach M152
2 x Mach tweeter clusters  
1 x Mach 20.02
13 x Powersoft amplifier D7000
6 x Powersoft amplifier D2004
3 x Powersoft DSP processor