The Underground celebrates grand opening

A rebranded and rennovated Alfie's Nightclub will open its doors for the first time

The Underground heavily features student artwork across its interior walls.
The Underground heavily features student artwork across its interior walls.
Photo: 
Photo: 
Stephanie Johnson, Nicola Plummer and Justin Reekie -- the team who undertook the changes.
Stephanie Johnson, Nicola Plummer and Justin Reekie -- the team who undertook the changes.
Photo: 
Photo: 
Photo: 
Photo: 
Photo: 

The Underground, formerly known as Alfie’s Nightclub, will open its doors for the first time today, beginning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 p.m.

The ceremony marks the culmination of a four month-long process to rebrand and renovate the preexisting nightclub space in an attempt to increase its attendance and revenue figures.

The rebrand was also undertaken in response to students’ concerns that “Alfie’s” was disrespectfully appropriated as a nightclub brand name, being the namesake of Alfred Pierce, a celebrated Queen’s legend.

Stephanie Johnson, The AMS Pub Services (TAPS) head manager, said they chose to make many design changes, and described the new space as more edgy and down to earth.

Johnson, alongside AMS hospitality and safety services director Justin Reekie and AMS vice-president of operations Nicola Plummer -- as well as a team of 7 assistant managers -- spearheaded the endeavour.

The club interior décor takes after a “grunge” theme. Student artwork is featured across the interior wall space, as well as the staircase leading into the venue – images of skulls, lips and faces, as well as increased lighting in the bar area, are used to add more colour and visual appeal to the club, Reekie said.

New seating has also been installed inside on the edge of the dance area, a more comfortable alternative to the preexisting furniture which creates a more spacious feel as well, he said. In addition, the plexiglass has been removed from the DJ booth and has been replaced with artwork.

Reekie said that a lot of thought went into using every aspect of the venue.

“We spent a lot of time critically looking at the space, as well as the dead spaces and how we can really utilize them to the best of its ability,” he said.

“With the booths it wasn’t merely just to add seating, but it was also in a space that no one was occupying so it’s a way to bring the club all together.” The renovations, which Plummer said cost “less than $40,000,” weren’t funded by student fees.

“The money comes from the collective surpluses of the services over the past thirty years, but will be paid for by TAPS,” she said.

Plummer declined to specify the exact cost, given that it was passed in close session of AMS Board of Directors.

Physical changes aside, the team is also set to introduce a number of different theme nights to increase attendance figures, Johnson said, in order to boost revenue.

Johnson said there will be three nights rotated each week - Hip-Pop, Throwback, and Classic Rock - and a fourth one that will change periodically. Plummer also said an LGBTQ night will be introduced this school year, and will be connected to a rights group or on-campus charity.

“One thing we’ve done is we’ve got rid of the event ‘Hoedown’ which was an event that wasn’t all that successful and we’ve replaced that with a new event called ‘Hip-Pop’, which is introducing hip hop and pop music remixes,” said Johnson, adding that it will be similar to “Throwback,” which she said proved popular last year.

The event will premiere this Friday, she said.

Plummer said another new event will be called “Re-Think the Pre-Drink” – a theme night geared to combat pre-drinking: an activity in which students drink heavily at home before going to a club or bar later in the night. This is part of an effort to prevent students from overconsumption before their night out has even begun.

The hope is that students who attend “Re-Think the Pre-Drink” will have better access to student services such as Walkhome, as opposed to the sometimes-chaotic environment in the areas around campus. “[Pre-drinking] obviously poses problems both to student’s health as well as our staff and that they’re now working in a higher-risk environment,” she said.

“Together we came up with ‘Re-Think the Pre-Drink’ which is essentially selling $2.50 drinks from 9-11 p.m. every night that the Underground is open. The hope is that this will draw students out of their houses,” she said.

Plummer said the rebrand will help the club connect with students, in order to create an ideal clubbing experience.

“It’s a lot more than just the theme, it’s the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s about the crowd that it attracts … that’s going to be the most important thing to us is how students feel about their experience in The Underground.”

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