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Turning on the night life

Bands, businesses, individuals form Lights Out Coalition to turn up area’s vibrance

It wasn’t too long ago that The B-Side and Mootsy’s hosted Latin bands on the same night. There was a joint cover and limo shuttle between the two bars. Around that same time local promoters combined efforts to host a series of shows that mashed math-rock bands, breakdancers, deejays, electronic musicians, jazz bands and visual artists onto the same bill at CenterStage.

Events haven’t been so cohesive in 2006, and a number of venues are out of the scene: The B-Side and Fat Tuesday’s have closed, The Shop is still open but no longer features live music, and Rock Coffee can’t host live music until it opens at a new location this fall.

The trend has inspired an alliance between downtown businesses, promoters, artists and patrons to support rather than compete with one another. It cross-promotes, cross-sponsors and cross-pollinates events. It’s a Pioneer Square mentality with a Spokane line of vision.

The group is the Lights Out Coalition ( It has no leader. It’s a network for like-minded individuals and businesses interested in turning the scattered bright spots downtown into a constellation of a vibrant nightlife.

7 is partnering with Lights Out affiliates to host a kickoff party Thursday at CenterStage, 1017 W. First Ave., and will support the effort by co-sponsoring weekly events at various locations.

Members of the Lights Out Coalition share their thoughts on the power of numbers on the following two pages.

•Ben Cater, 31, bar manager at RAW Sushi and Island Grill and former owner of The B-Side:

“It was silly for me and Rick (former Mootsy’s owner) to pretend we had different customers. … When you’re running a business that is serving the same clientele, you have to decide if you want to be competitive or cooperative.”

•Patrick Kendrick, 27, Rock Coffee manager and show promoter:

“It’s cool to see that everyone is friends, and it’s not this big battle downtown. Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve always lived downtown because of all these close-knit businesses living together – street people living together with people living in condos and packing every aspect of society together and trying to make it work.”

•Mike Bonnes, 29, Brooklyn Nights bar manager:

“We need to be working communally to conquer that goal so we’re not all scheduling open mike on the same night.”

•Jody Harville, 33, Brooklyn Deli and Brooklyn Nights owner:

“If we’re all more popular, we all get together as a district and more people want to come, not because of one business. We’re trying to make it so you want to come to this area and grow all the businesses.”

•Dale Strom, 57, city planner who has worked in community development for 28 years and moonlights as co-founder of Inland RAWK the Northwest:

“We’re growing our kids so that a lot of them want to take off to somewhere they think is more exciting. Let’s make this the better to place to live.”

•Daniel Sanchez, 26, who takes over as co-owner of Mootsy’s on Wednesday:

“We all have the opportunity and everyone is opinionated enough to give Spokane a complexion and identity.”

•Leslie Grove, 58, music director at CenterStage:

“All of the activities we do are dedicated to local and regional art to enhance downtown and getting together and working together so we can all really make this a place that entices people to come downtown.”

•Kelly Lotze, 24, Emmaus Road Collective promoter:

“I’m getting to know venues and businesses to help get more acoustic artists places to play. This is a networking tool, and it’s something I live by. The more people you know, the more you can help.”

•Justin Whiteman, 32, local filmmaker:

“I’ve been a proud Spoky for years. If you have any enthusiasm about showcasing the hip, quirky flavor of Spokane and those sensibilities and aesthetics through art, I’m going to be the first to jump in and offer my contribution, which isn’t a ton, but if a lot of us get together and make it collective, we can turn even more heads.”

•Alex Caruso, 34, owner of Empyrean Coffee:

“Supporting art and culture aren’t always the most profitable investments. … We’ve paid bands out of pocket, because if they don’t make any money here, what’s the likelihood of them coming back.”

•Noel Macapagal, 33, owner of RAW Sushi and Island Grill:

“No one can take more than they are giving. My neighborhood is downtown Spokane. We’re trying to preserve the forest, and the only way to do that is to work together. Not everyone thinks that way, but I’m hoping and praying that those of us who do are the dominant force in our little ecosystem.”