DC10 begs for the obvious similes. "It's like flying first class." "It's like being in a private jet with your friends." "It's like gliding over the ocean."
Partyers at the sleek Denver nightclub say a lot of things, and so far most of them have been glowing. DC10 has packed in the crowds every weekend since its July 7 opening, often generating lines down the block.
The nightclub's exclusive atmosphere starts with the décor, which mimics the pristine interior of a space-age aircraft. Myriad screens display video of high-altitude flight. Rounded walls and white vinyl recall the Korova Milk Bar of Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange." International airport recordings loop in the bathrooms.
Even the servers are dressed in flight-attendant uniforms - albeit the skintight, revealing kind.
"Concept is really needed in this field," said co-owner and entertainment director Kostas Kouremenos.
Clubs like DC10 may be common in bigger markets such as New York or L.A., where affluence flows like water. But DC10, named after the McDonnell Douglas aircraft, is something new for Denver: A swanky, themed nightclub that actually works.
"This is a very up-and-coming neighborhood," Kouremenos said. "It reminds me of Soho."
It's a stretch to compare the area between East Ninth and 10th avenues on Lincoln Street to New York's storied Soho, but the strip has its charms. The Beauvallon towers, which opened in 2004, continue to add upscale restaurants and eateries. Dazzle, next door to DC10, has been a classy jazz spot for years. And the Golden Triangle area boasts a burgeoning population of young, beautiful people with disposable incomes.
"We wanted it to be in an area that's not too mainstream, so you can really get the concept and not just come here because it's on the way to another bar," Kouremenos said.
He previously launched or owned clubs such as Lotus, Pure, Amsterdam - and more recently Spa Audio Therapy - and knows a good thing when he sees it. When the distinctive open-windowed building at 940 Lincoln became available, he and his partner Ha Hau snatched it up. Its high wooden ceilings and open layout lent itself to a unique concept.
"We originally wanted to do a concept that was an airplane or a hangar," he said. "When we saw the building we got together with an architect and came up with it in about 10 days."
DC10 extends its concept to its themed nights, which run every night of the week and include DJ sets, fashion shows and the usual drink specials. Live entertainment on a built-in stage randomly features belly dancers, musicians and fire-breathers. Then there's the personalized service - for those who can afford it.
Kouremenos estimated the average club-goer should plan on dropping at least $20 per visit, a conservative estimate from the looks of the menu. On the weekends, the limited number of cozy tables are for those reserving bottle service (minimum of two). Bottles start around $150, a price an upmarket group of partyers should have no problem splitting.
Speciality drinks (The Cockpit, the Layover, The Air Turbulence) and bottles are sometimes served, appropriately, out of real airliner drink carts. Although Kouremenos declined to reveal specifics, it probably wasn't cheap to launch.
Nightclubs require enormous amounts of capital to open and run, and many fail after only a few months. DC10 already employs 20 people, a hefty payroll chunk considering the space's relatively limited 350-person capacity, which often leaves would-be patrons waiting outside for up to two hours.
"I once had a guy offer me $200 to skip past the rest of the line with one of his friends," said Megan Boyle, event and marketing coordinator for DC10. "Of course, I couldn't take it."
The bar has no cover but does enforce a dress code. No black ties, mind you, but no jerseys, ripped jeans or cheap T-shirts either. That suits the pseudo-celebrity crowd fine. MTV's "The Real World" stopped by the club's opening weekend to whip up some drama. The "Trading Spaces" crew stopped in too, as do Broncos and Nuggets athletes.
Being selective about who you let in has its advantages, and Kouremenos thinks the present and future success of DC10 lies in such details.
"We're thinking about franchising DC10 ... like in Chicago or parts of Texas," Kouremenos said. "We've had a few offers from different companies, one in London called GateCrasher."
Whether DC10 spawns a brood of similar-minded clubs - or even survives a year in Denver - is almost beside the point. It's currently enjoying being at the top of the ladder for nightlife hotspots, removed from the churn of LoDo and the grit of Capitol Hill.
"If you notice, we don't have a VIP room," said event coordinator Boyle. "It's because we want everyone in here to be treated first-class."
Staff writer John Wenzel can be reached at 303-954-1642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIGHTCLUB|940 Lincoln St.; open weekdays at 4 p.m., weekends at 6 p.m.|NO COVER|Visit DC10Den ver.com for events, theme nights and bottle reservations.