Sitting apart from just about everything else in South Baltimore but a set of train tracks and other warehouses is Paradox, a one time storage place for a marble company.
Transformed by former Odell’s night club disc jockey and Fantasy [night] club owner Wayne Davis, Paradox was an integral part of the dance scene in Baltimore from it’s early days and has had many of today’s famous DJs grace the decks during their starting days.
Paradox has been instrumental in the musical careers of Baltimore’s world renowned Basement Boys production team (Crystal Waters and Ultra Naté), legendary dance music artist Ultra Naté and super producer Dj Spen.
Since it’s opening, Paradox has attracted a diversified clientele of black and white, straight and gay…all to hear music!
As the times have changed, so too has the Dox. Closing for 5 weeks in 2011 to add additional VIP/seating areas, upgrades to the sound system and equipment and adding more lights and decor, Paradox re-opened to record crowds of dancers and is hosting some of the largest parties by and with the largest names around.
From Orbit, FEVER, Deep Sugar, Salvation, LEGACY, Switcharoo, the original Fall Massive and MIXOLOGY to soon to be legendary parties Thunderdome & Laser Disco, the Paradox has seen the electronic dance movement from its start and knows it’s far from finishing!
The nationally distributed Details Magazine once named Paradox one of the Top 6 Clubs in Maryland and Baltimore Magazine and City Paper have named Paradox, the “Best Industrial Late-Night Spot”, the “Best Sound in the City” and Winner of “Best Dance Club”.
– Excerpt from City Paper – 7/16/08
Last Night’s Parties
Three Figures of Baltimore’s After-Hours Life Offer Their Memories of Dancing Till Dawn
Wayne Davis, 55, started DJing in 1968. After some two and a half decades working in the nightclub industry, in 1991 he opened Paradox, a cavernous dance club underneath a freeway overpass south of downtown Baltimore. He to speaks to a reporter is his office and, later, by phone.
Before Paradox, I had a club on North Howard Street called Fantasy. They started developing the properties surrounding it into residential [buildings]–they turned an old school into condos, a union hall into condos. The residential tenants started complaining about the noise at night. The Baltimore Development Corp. suggested we look down in this area [for a new club] because it was industrial. It was just empty warehouse. Nothing was in it. Roll-up doors, concrete floors–that type of situation. We had some sound and lighting from Fantasy and basically started it with those items. Not much décor.
Paradox was somewhat the same concept as Fantasy. Fantasy was an after-hours, nonalcohol club, but on a smaller scale, basically. I used to DJ back in late ’60s, and my exposure to the whole scene was mainly New York and Philly, and they were mainly clubs like that, mainly juice bars–like the Garage, the Loft, places like that. That’s where I got my exposure, so I guess that’s why I kept it that same way.
When we initially opened [Paradox] the format for our music was predominantly house music. That’s where I came from. We had a pretty diverse crowd at that time–the numbers probably started out in the lower hundreds and they grew. We had a promoter that did a party called Orbit, which was a very diverse party–gay, white, straight. The largest crowd we ever had was one of the Fever parties, which Orbit evolved into. It was a large crowd–I won’t give away any occupancy. Exceeded 1,000. Saturday was our diverse gay and straight night. It was a melting pot at that point.
Then the Saturday crowd evolved into being predominantly gay. That’s when the whole thing evolved. The crowd that supported the house music scene started dwindling, and the hip-hop started building. As the older house scene patrons stopped partying, there was no new ones to replace them. As you get older, you stop hanging, and there’s a newer, younger person coming in to replace. There were no replacements for the house music scene. All the kids were into hip-hop music, and the underground music became Baltimore club music.
Also, the gay crowd, who were the main supporters of house music back when I was DJing and back in the early days of the club, started bouncin’ to the hip-hop music because, I think, they thought it was more appealing sexually–made them more attractive based on the artist that did the music. Mimicking them–the dress and all that. It changed. Hip-hop music started to dominate the scene and house music became the music we played once a month in the main room and hip-hop was played all the other times. I don’t think [the club’s original identity] is lost; it’s just evolving with the times. In order to stay alive and afloat, we have to.
As far as the house scene reviving itself, I don’t think that will happen until the kids start partying to that music and acknowledging it, until we can start bringing them back into it. It’s basically done through exposure. They tend to mimic what they think is popular. I’ve started to notice that on Friday, our college straight night, one of our DJs, Big L, has started integrating some of the samples from house music, and that’s the initial exposure. He tends to take a chance, where a lot of DJs play one type of music. He’ll mix in some house, some old-school R&B–very diverse. I admire him for that, being that courageous.
Back in the early ’90s, all we were really required was in-house security. As time has evolved we started using off-duty officers. And time evolved more, we had to add Baltimore City overtime police officers, uniformed officers, to control and keep the perimeters in order. The more violence we have in the city–some people tend to bring those problems to those clubs. So, yeah, [heavier security] came as a necessity. I can’t pinpoint why. My personal opinion is that the violence increased as the breakdown of the family structure did, and the wrong role models are being emulated.
I like when the crowds come together for just the party–the music, the party itself–when they don’t bring in any of their hang-ups or their baggage or anything. Everybody enjoys the party. Those are the ones that I enjoy the most. Now, when I have my birthday parties, those are the ones that I enjoy. That brings out the old crowd. They kind of think of it as a reunion.