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Mosaic takes the party inside

The Baltimore Sun

You can measure Mosaic's trendiness like this: The outdoor tent lounge in Power Plant Live's plaza was such a hot spot, its sharp-dressed patrons didn't mind using the portable toilets.

"That is [a] testament, that a crowd was willing to use those porta-potties while they were going out," said general manager LG Concannon.

For more than two years, Concannon, aka DJ LoveGrove, and other staff members would spend as long as two hours a night setting up the portable toilets, plus the bar and audio/visual system that formed seasonal outdoor lounge Mosaic, which opened in summer 2004. Tomorrow and Saturday nights mark a new beginning for the lounge, as it celebrates the grand opening of its new, permanent indoor location.

"It will be another jewel in Baltimore's night life," said Concannon, who was hired as Mosaic's general manager after promoting the Sonic Soul event - a night of Latin and jazz-influenced house music presented by Concannon and Adam Auburn - in the club's first summer.

As a seasonal lounge, Mosaic played host to as many as 250 people for Sonic Soul Saturdays and other events. When it was outside Power Plant Live, though, the lounge was susceptible to a number of setbacks.

Though Mosaic was open during the most optimal months, May through October, inclement weather still made staff a little worried over turnout. If rain was in the forecast, DJs wouldn't always show. In addition, "even if it is just a little chilly, girls don't want to go out with their coats on," Concannon said.

Still, the lounge's seasonal appeal indicated to Mosaic staff that turnout could be good year-round. Concannon said 150 to 200 people showed up even during heavy rains.

"We knew what we were doing," Concannon said. "We knew we could re-create what we had there inside, and we thought it was important to do it year-round."

At its corner of Market Place and Water Street, dark high ceilings have replaced white tent tops as shelter. A small outdoor garden, plus bamboo accents and wooden furniture, oak and wasabi green, lining the dance floor suggest the lounge's former outdoor existence.

The bar is in plain view from the entrance, with liquors shelved almost as high as the disco balls. And the new sound system and video monitors take advantage of the great indoors.

"One, we wanted to be proud of what we had," Concannon said. "And two, we wanted to be able to satisfy a DJ."

The new location can hold 400 people - "large enough to be a club, but small enough to be a lounge," Concannon said. Cushioned seating and ottomans around the dance floor add to this feeling.

In its outdoor incarnation, Mosiac gained popularity by showcasing DJs from across the country and around the world. Concannon hopes the new lineup will continue to satisfy Baltimore nightlife patrons.

"We don't want people to go to New York or Philly if they can hear what they love here," he said.

This weekend's grand opening brings a mix of the new and the favorites. A new Friday event - EVE (Electro Discoteque Indulgence) - begins tomorrow. DJ Who, who first invited Concannon and Auburn to DJ at Mosaic and to promote the venue, will be hosting with Mark Styles.

Then on Saturday night, Concannon and Auburn offer their trademark Sonic Soul Saturday for the first time indoors.

Mosaic will be open Wednesday through Saturday, with additional Sunday guest events monthly. Baltimore DJ Logo has been enlisting local talent for the new Wednesday event "re:fresh," in hopes of boosting their careers.

"Someone had to give me a first chance. I want to give someone that same chance," Concannon said, as he recalled his career beginnings in Baltimore's rave scene during the early '90s.

Fort Knox Five has taken its funky breakbeat mash-ups of hip-hop and a cappella around the world. Beginning on March 22, the Washington-based group will host its own weekly event, "The Joint," with occasional guest DJs.

On the second Sunday every month, beginning April 8, Mosaic will host a special edition of Shanta, Red Maple's international dance party. The lounge will also host Scandal, a lesbian ladies' night with DJ Kristen and guests, on the third Sunday of every month.

Since he DJ'ed an alternative radio show and spun at Calvert Cafe as a Towson University student, Concannon has experimented with different forms of dance music, from ambient to acid house, and has taken different roles in promoting Baltimore's scene. These days though, he seems to be satisfied with what he has now.

"This is a dream come true for me," he said.

For opening weekend, there is no cover charge before 10 p.m., $10 afterward. The lounge is at 4 Market Place. For more information about Mosaic events, call 410-752-5444 or go to mosaic-lounge.com.

To see before and after photos of Mosaic, go to baltimoresun.com/mosaic.


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