‘80s club hits with a modern edge

A clubgoer dances recently at The Violet Hour.

A clubgoer dances recently at The Violet Hour.

Photo by David Robert

Back in the late 1980s, Reno was a hip little place for a cow town.

Granted, alternative radio had yet to hit Reno airwaves (with the exception of programs like The Bottom 40 on KUNR and The Vinyl Frontier on KOZZ), and back then, you could get beaten up for having spiky, green hair. But in that time, the local alternative/goth/mod scene was thriving, and there were several all-ages clubs that opened between 1987 and 1991 that played industrial, gothic and new wave music. Nightclubs like The Premier Club, The Underground, The Red Square and The Quake were some of the places that catered to the alternative clientele.

Rob Pelikan fondly remembers those days. He often attended the Premier Club during its Blue Monday nights, when you could hear anything from new wave dance hits to the latest underground music. That’s the kind of experimental atmosphere Pelikan wants to re-create with The Violet Hour, an alternative dance night at Visions dedicated to ‘80s gothic, industrial and new wave music, with some updated alternative music to keep things fresh.

“My ideal vision is a mix of the best of then with the best of now,” Pelikan explained.

The DJ said he grew frustrated that he couldn’t hear some of his favorite music at any of the local nightclubs, even when they offered an alternative night. Convinced he wasn’t the only person in Reno to feel that way, Pelikan decided to do something about it. He called up the owners of Visions, one of the places where he would often go dancing, and proposed to host an alternative night. The owners gave him the green light, and in December, The Violet Hour was born.

Bauhaus, The Cure and Depeche Mode, as well as industrial bands like Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and Nine Inch Nails, are some bands in regular rotation at the club. Pelikan said he gets experimental with his music selection in the first hour, gradually progressing to more danceable tunes and newer music as more people file in. Occasionally, audience members bring in their own music and ask him to play it.

Although the place doesn’t get as packed as it does on other nights at Visions, Pelikan said that many of those who do make it to The Violet Hour have expressed their gratitude that they can go somewhere to hear the music they like. He said one of the highlights of the job is when he plays a song that immediately elicits cheers from the crowd and has people running for the dance floor.

Pelikan estimated that most of the people who attend are in their late 20s, but the crowd can range from 23 to 34. He said some are long-time Reno residents and some are folks who have moved from bigger cities and were surprised to find something like The Violet Hour.

Pelikan hopes more people will visit the club, even if they’re not the gothic, black-wearing types. He believes that there are enough people in the area who would support something like The Violet Hour.

“I’m just trying to fill the void," he said.