TV Lounge celebrates their ninth birthday this year, and they’re doing it the only way that makes sense (and that’s worked for them before): a huge, killer dance party featuring some of the best international and local talent — and a surprise headliner who won’t be revealed until folks arrive at the club. Metro Times met with Josh Guerin — the club’s music director, production manager, and a respected DJ in his own right under the moniker Mister Joshooa — to get the inside scoop.
Metro Times: What's the history of this place? How did it all come together? Josh Guerin: This place has been under the same ownership since 1999, but [at the time] under the name Half Past 3. I was bartending there in 2002, and it was a successful club. But they didn't do any advertising of any kind. You had to know about it to get in. People really appreciated that 'cause it was kinda elite. Sports personalities and local celebrities would come here because they knew they wouldn't be messed with; they could be normal people again. That eventually closed, and the bar went under construction and became TV Lounge.
The idea for TV was conceived to be a high-end sports bar, and the sign still says "a sports dive with food," which is totally not what we are at all. The sports bar thing didn't work out 'cause I think the owner was a little ahead of his time. That would work now with the new stadium coming in and all the other nice stadiums; it would be perfect now. I left during that time period and got another job and was DJing more, and eventually they called me back to come manage.
When I was DJing, I met a lot of people and brought them here, and we've been doing more promotions ever since I came back. We kept some of the Half Past 3 attitude, though. Our Wednesday and Friday nights are still the original crowd coming in. I still see some of the same people coming in that I knew from bartending in like 2002. And we were never a sports bar, but we kept all the TVs. It kinda doesn't make any sense. It's a dumb name, but it doesn't matter.
TV Lounge has had its fair share of evolutions over the years, and as the regulars know very well, it's all part of the natural progression of the space: As our parties got bigger and bigger, we needed more room, so we got the property next to us, and now we have two patios. Over the years it's been a constantly morphing place, based on the needs of the party. We're always moving the furniture around. Every six months the place gets newly decorated. We just built a new DJ booth.
MT: What can people expect at the anniversary party?
Guerin: We have one of our favorite artists coming back, Guillaume & the Coutu Dumonts. He's an incredible, classically trained artist. We've booked him about six times before, and he always plays something new and fresh. The rest are our resident DJs. Our secret guest is coming in from New York, but that's all I'll say about that. We'll have some art installations as well. There's also an after-party, the details of which will be announced the night of. You'll have to be here to find out about that.
MT: How do you balance international artists with locals?
Guerin: We want this place to be a stepping stone for people. When we were coming up, there weren't that many venues for our music. Detroit has a ton of talent. For international artists, I usually only book people I have some sort of connection to. Rarely do I reach out to people I don't really know, and only if I really like their music. We cater to two crowds, mostly: hip-hop and old-school house, and new wave techno kids.
MT: Do you see those as two separate scenes?
Guerin: Well, we wouldn't have one without the other, but, sad to say, they don't mix too often. But when they do, those are always awesome parties, and the most authentic representation of TV. If you program the night right, everyone will come out. Gotta find just the right mixture.
MT: What are you expecting for the anniversary?
Guerin: I'm hoping our older crowd will come out; Bruce Bailey might attract some of them, but it will probably mostly be people interested in the newer, young artists.
MT: Does TV see itself as competing with the other techno happenings around town?
Guerin: That stuff definitely has an effect on us. The summertime is full of festivals, but a lot of that stuff we don't compete with because I think we do something unique here, and we try to keep it different. People go to those things 'cause they know it will be a huge party, but I pay attention to everything that's going on and try to program accordingly. That way, if you don't like one festival, you're gonna love what we're doing. I stay in communication with other bars and we try not to do the same thing. We all talk. The scene is growing in Detroit, but it's still not that big. There's competition out there, but we play nicely together.
TV Lounge also plays nice with the entire Detroit community, not just the techno crowd. We participate in the community. We do fundraisers and events for the police departments; we feed the homeless on a regular basis. The owner is starting a nonprofit [and] looking into buying trucks that will drive around feeding people. For the ninth year, and also as a part of International Youth Day, we're donating a portion of the ticket sales to the Give a Beat Foundation.
MT: Are you guys already thinking about the 10-year anniversary?
Guerin: Yes, I've already put out inquiries; I'm going really big next year and doing some things that I've always wanted to do.
TV Lounge's ninth anniversary party is Saturday, Aug. 13; 6 p.m.; 2548 Grand River Ave., Detroit; $15, 21 or older.