It seems that nowadays, life can take place almost anywhere. From doctors’ checkups in your kitchen to college lectures in your bed, remote meetings are widely used as a substitute for the face-to-face life. One Newark business is taking it a step further — a weekly nightclub with live DJ-ing, right in your living room!
QXT’s is an alternative dance club on the corner of Mulberry and Elm just three blocks down front of the Prudential Center in Newark, and it carries with its name a rich history of urban entertainment. Adapted from the restaurant Don Quixote about 30 years ago, it has functioned as a mix between a lounge and a mosh pit for music seekers of a variety of genres such as EDM, goth, punk and rock, attracting a niche crowd of partygoers from the area for decades. Recently, along with many other businesses and people in the entertainment industry, QXT’s has closed its doors to customers. In Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka has instated a number of rules and curfews for non-essential businesses. But that doesn’t mean the party has stopped altogether.
Current owner of the QXT’s nightclub Rolando Manna and his team of innovative DJ’s have taken to the virtual stage ever since last summer, streaming their usually unusual mix of alt jams on their Twitch streaming channel, ClubQxTs.
“The idea of streaming came from… our resident DJs,” said Manna. “Some of them had already [begun] to stream from home and obviously, we all agreed to the concept of reaching out and connecting with our QXT’s fan base.”
Twitch is a widely popular live video streaming service that has developed its large following in the video game industry, but it has since grown to a medium that supports all sorts of creative streams that any user can put up for free, with ads and options for fans to subscribe to the channel to help keep the business afloat.
Folks at QXT’s however — while still driven closer to the brink of economic meltdown due to a lack of clientele — have taken to this new-age approach of letting their fans know they’re still kicking. And at no cost, too!
“[I]n the midst of a very difficult economic time for so many… we decided not [to] have people pay. We are blessed to have an amazing group of followers who have been loyal and so supportive over the last 30 years,” said Manna. “Streaming was not designed to raise revenue but to give back a bit of joy to the thousands of followers.”
For the QXT family, the maintenance of their fanbase has been their top priority. Anyone can tune in from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m. every Saturday on the club’s Twitch channel to watch a live video feed of the club’s DJs continue to spin tracks on the QXT stage complete with colorful strobe lights and smoke machines. And every night, the stream’s live chat is filled with excited at-home party-goers, looking to chill out and talk with their fellow viewers. It seems that although the physical aspect of the club has been forgone, the team seems to have pulled together all the right elements: good sound, good vibes and good company.
The stream peaks at about 150 – 175 viewers, and on average it receives 80-90 people per night. The club’s latest stream upload has clocked in at just under 1200 total views, which is not too shabby for a fairly new Twitch channel launched in May 2020.
“[Live streaming] would never replace the energy level of a dance floor… Nor can it provide the synergy of a crowd with a live DJ. Still, we are glad to have it and we will continue to use it in the future.”
Although they are crushing the streaming game, Manna and his team, alongside so many others are planning to reopen sooner rather than later. QXT’s is reportedly expecting to allow customers in as a small-scale lounge hopefully this year, where their unique collection of music can be heard, accompanied by food and drink, tapas style. They are currently waiting on the city’s official approval to install a kitchen. Alas, the pandemic has slowed all of government down along with business. Despite all of this, Manna is hoping to open the doors QXT’s “The Crypt” and “Area 51” dancefloors in the coming year — at decreased capacity of course.
Until then, though, QXT will continue to rely on the charity of their fans to help them stay afloat until the point of their return to business as usual. Head promoter of the club Damian Hrunka and a few other resident DJs opened a GoFundMe campaign titled “QXT’s 2021 Home Away From Home Relief” on behalf of Manna’s club last May, and have since amassed close to $36,000 of their $50,000 goal.
Instructions read, “Please donate and share words of encouragement,” so the club has received an outpouring of love from all corners of the alt scene. Preachings of love and adoration flood the donation box, along with gifts of anywhere from $20 to $600. Everyone donator refers to QXT’s as home, and in an ironic twist, the current situation has brought the essence of the club into the homes of the fans forthwith, to the forefront of their thoughts and prayers.
“[W]e can honestly say that our patrons’ generosity is the main reason we have not given up… If our plan [to reopen as a Lounge with a kitchen] works, we are committed to have QXT’s as a venue… for many more years.”
Although the current state of things is fairly bleak, the future is looking brighter — or, in QXT’s gothic themed halls, darker — every day. Staples of community and culture such as this nightclub are struggling, but through the continued support of their loyal patrons, they will make a full recovery in due time. And the wonderful thing is that nowadays, the greatest thing that one can do to show support is to sit back, relax and headbang to a punk-industrial-darkwave song streaming from your laptop. Now that’s metal.