Baltimore might never be a club-going city like New York, Miami — or even Washington.
For many reasons, only a few high-end lounges have been able to make it for the long haul in Charm City. Generally, they're run by people who understand what Baltimoreans want — and don't want — in a club. We hate pretentiousness, and are only willing to shell out for cover charges and expensive cocktails if we get our money's worth. The owners of Red Maple and Good Love understood this, which is why their businesses prospered. There have been some spectacular flame-outs, too. Palma and Pur come to mind.
Whenever a club owner tries to "bring New York City/Miami to Baltimore," it almost always guarantees failure. With that in mind, here are some of the highs and lows of the Baltimore club scene in the past several years.
Good Love Bar, 2322 Boston St. Timing is everything: This Canton lounge opened in the '90s at the height of the trip hop, house and acid jazz scene, and was a hot spot for DJs. The dark, earthy space had no sign, only candles burning in the window. Good Love burned down in 2003 but reopened the next year, until finally calling it quits in 2007 — an eternity in club years.
Red Maple, 930 N. Charles St. The same folks who ran Good Love brought us Red Maple in December 2001. The Mount Vernon club, which also had no formal sign out front, quickly became a see-and-be-seen spot for club kids and well-dressed folks in their 20s and 30s. With fire pits, clean lines and brick walls, it's an enchanting space, and continues to be one of the city's best lounges.
Pur, 2322 Boston St. The successor to Good Love, Pur was just too fancy. Heaven knows how much money its owners paid to install the stone tiles and two-story waterfall, or the little glass bowls with Siamese fighting fish. Opened in January 2008, Pur brought Miami chic and Miami prices to Boston Street. On the weekends, it charged a whopping $20 cover, which didn't go over well. Pur went dark last year.
Palma, 200 E. Redwood St. One of the most spectacular flops in Baltimore club history, Palma was doomed from the start. Owner Jon Han reportedly sunk $2.5 million into the megaclub at Calvert and Redwood streets. Han bragged about his achievements, but spoke too soon. After its grand opening, Palma was a ghost town. A combination of mismanagement and high overhead meant Palma was kaput in a matter of months.