The Paradox—Baltimore's 13,000-square-foot warehouse club that epitomized they-don't-make-'em-like-that-anymore venues—is closing its doors after 25 years this spring. A mainstay for house, techno, hip-hop, Baltimore club, and most recently EDM, the after-hours venue is one of its kind in Charm City. Some of the city's preeminent parties are paying homage to the beloved venue by throwing a series of farewell events—including Fever, the 90s techno rave that set the tempo for Baltimore's underground club scene, which is reuniting after 15 years for one final hoorah.
Wayne Davis, The Paradox's long-standing owner, announced the club's closure in October, giving enough lead time for a prolonged farewell to existing club nights, like soulful house party Deep Sugar. The event's doyennes, Ultra Naté (of "Free" fame) and Lisa Moody, have pulled out all the stops for their final run this Saturday, with Louie Vega manning the booth.
The big buzz in Baltimore, however, is over the final Fever on March 26. The party was helmed by DJs Scott Henry and Charles Feelgood, the pair who topped the '90s Baltimore/D.C. dance music scene. Fever put The Paradox on the map and made Baltimore an East Coast rave destination par excellence. Just like the club's improbably long run in a fickle industry, Fever was no fly by night operation—it ran the full '90s gamut with wild Thursdays that left many a strung-out raver on Friday mornings from 1992 to 2001. Fever had only two reunion parties in the mid-2000s, so it's been almost 15 years since the last regular night. Tickets sold out immediately after they went on sale on Wednesday morning for the 800-capacity venue, however some tickets were held back and will go on sale on Monday February 15 at 12pm EST.
"It was 100% fan outreach because The Paradox is closing," Feelgood said over the phone from Los Angeles, where he moved after closing the Fever chapter of his life. "We decided to get the old gang back together and throw one last Fever event for the masses." Dubtribe Sound System, the San Francisco-based electronic duo who Feelgood described as "one of the most revered acts we've ever had", will play a live show at the final sendoff.
Memories run deep for the party that defined Baltimore's dance music scene for a decade. "Fever was the event that shaped my life," recalled DJ LoveGrove, a local stalwart curating the final Fever party's courtyard lineup. LoveGrove has called in Brooklyn-based De Rigueur and Bmore-native Donny Burlin, for all-vinyl sets of rare groove and chillout vibes.
The 'Dox, as it's affectionately known in the scene, opened in 1991 and Davis secured a 25-year lease that runs out this year. Over a quarter century, he put his heart and wallet into the club, building up the dance floor and décor over time. Davis invested in top-notch sound with cabinets by Richard Long, the same custom sound designer as the Paradise Garage—the New York venue considered to be the the first to put a DJ as its focal point, paving the way for the modern dance music club.
The Salvation party, where Davis is resident alongside Teddy Douglas of Baltimore house production crew Basement Boys, channels the Paradise spirit. At 18 years old, it's The 'Dox's longest running party, and will close out on February 27 with special guest DJ Beloved.
But with no worthy successor to take the reins, Davis is now hanging up the decks. "I'm 63 now and the hours and work that's needed—it's a bit much for me for a venue that large," he told THUMP. "It's become a one-man show." While he had a few handpicked successors in mind to take over the lease, none of them panned out.
The late night venue tucked under a highway overpass has survived police raids for drugs during the rave crackdown of the late '90s, the construction of the M&T Bank football stadium, and the arrival of a casino just across the street, all of which have spruced up its gritty, industrial corner of South Baltimore. Hammerjacks, a local concert venue known for rock shows, will replace the Paradox. Davis speculated that that developer will likely retain the façade but demolish the interior to make way for its reincarnation.
"I think the people that went to Fever regularly knew they were a part of something special," said Scott Herman, general manager of U Street Music Hall, a DJ-run D.C. venue currently carrying the flag for the region's dance scene. With long ties to the Fever era, he gladly stepped in to promote the bash. "The response has been overwhelming so far, and people are excited to get back together with friends they probably haven't seen in years, at the club that was such a big part of their life."
Look out for the few remaining tickets for the Fever party on March 26 that go on sale on February 15 at 12pm EST. Davis also promises a non-stop 72-hour house music extravaganza for The Paradox's final weekend from (April 29-30), details forthcoming.