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Ecce, Ecco

[whitespace] Club Ecco A Night to Remember, Remember: Two first-nighters pose for our roving camerman at Club Ecco, San Jose's newest dance emporium.

Dane Andrew

Can the new San Jose dance spot Club Ecco keep 'em down in the valley?

By Michelle Goldberg

LIGHTS SHOT hundreds of feet into the sky over San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose Saturday night to celebrate the opening of Club Ecco. By 11pm, hundreds of people were queued outside the door, being entertained by a flame juggler as they waited.

Inside, gorgeous girls in strappy, shiny minidresses and platform sandals milled about with liquid-limbed rave boys, stiff engineers in suits and muscle-bound men with short hair gelled into dangerously hard spikes. A stunning tarot reader painted with shiny makeup glided around in a flowing red skirt and a fantastic horned headdress, looking like a cross between a Bollywood leading lady and an opera diva.

"I want everybody to be a part of Ecco," says owner Scott DeCastro, who opened the new club in the space that used to be Hamburger Mary's. "My goal is for San Jose to be known for entertainment worldwide."

It may be a bit early to speculate about San Jose becoming an international nightclubbing Mecca, but the people behind Ecco have created other clubs with global reputations. DeCastro has worked on such legendary San Francisco parties as Nikita, Release and Spundae, which UK music magazine Mixmag singled out as one of the country's best clubs, saying, "With organizations like Spundae around, the future of electronic music in the States is in safe hands."

DeCastro is planning a Sunday tea dance--a weekly Sunday afternoon party like the ones held in New York, San Francisco and LA. For Ecco, DeCastro has hired resident DJs who usually have to go to San Francisco to spin for a living, including B.B. Hayes and Julius Papp.

Unfortunately for much of the crowd at the opening, Hayes and Papp were only spinning in the VIP room, so not everyone got to shake to their smooth, soulful disco-infused house. Somewhat cruelly, the airy, half-outdoor VIP room was adjacent to the entranceway so the excluded could see what they were missing as they made their way inside.

Even without a red plastic VIP bracelet, there were plenty of places to dance--though the music wasn't nearly as good. The main room pumped with sugary, spring-break-in-Cabo-style Top-40 house that created a sour, frat-party vibe.

An adjacent room was much better--hardcore progressive house and trance music pulsated from the bone-shaking sound system, while a wash of blue strobe lights played over the club's most serious dancers. Another dance floor featured slinky funk and hip-hop that had the suited Silicon Valley computer nerds and financial wizards dancing in jerky shuffles. A handful of Amazonian drag queens sashayed from room to room, raising the fabulousness quotient to the stratosphere.

SO IS IT a new age for San Jose nightlife? Perhaps, but there are still a couple of hurdles in the way of true South Bay bacchanalia. First of all, Ecco lacks an after-hours permit, and so it closes at 2am--the time that most of the world's megaclubs are just getting started.

"If they let people stay until after 2am, they could sober up before they got in their cars," Hayes says. "That's what's kept San Jose clubs from being more successful."

Near the indoor bar, a girl said to her friend, "This will never last." Asked why not, Natasha, a San Jose native who currently lives in San Francisco, said, "It's trying to be a San Francisco club, but it's cheesy. It hasn't identified itself." Her friend Nicole said that though she lives in San Jose, she's only gone clubbing in the South Bay twice--she usually spends her weekends up north. "When I first moved to San Jose," she said, "I was very surprised that there weren't more dance clubs."

But although Nicole and Natasha might not come back to Ecco, other San Jose clubbers are sick of driving for hours just to go dancing. "San Jose is ready to evolve," says promoter Ramah Love, an impossibly beautiful woman wearing a long silver gown. "We're tired of driving up to San Francisco for this. We decided to bring it down here and see if San Jose can support it."

Judging by the hundreds of people grooving on its four dance floors, San Jose scenesters have been hungry for house music, and they're eating Ecco up.

Club Ecco is located at 87 N. San Pedro St., San Jose. It's open Friday-Saturday 9pm-2am. (408/793-0328)

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From the August 20-26, 1998 issue of Metro.

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