Get in the zone
In the late 1980s and early ’90s, you could often find a group of black-clad teenagers with wild hairstyles hanging out at Reno’s old Park Lane Mall, just killing time until they could go out to dance. Defunct nightclubs such as the Premier Club, The Underground—not the current one on Fourth Street—The Red Square and The Quake hosted alternative music nights for all ages. These kids could be found there, typically smoking clove cigarettes and dancing to music by bands such as Depeche Mode, Clan of Xymox, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 and Skinny Puppy.
Many of the kids who danced at those clubs have grown up, settled down and started families. But that doesn’t mean they’ve all hung up their Doc Martens or Bauhaus T-shirts for good.
Longtime Reno resident Jason Hollis, 39, has resurrected the alternative club format with Interzone, a monthly dance night dedicated to playing alternative ’80s, gothic and industrial music.
Hollis says he and his friends were growing tired of driving out of state to nightclubs in Sacramento or San Francisco that host gothic/industrial dance nights. The combined expenses of transportation, lodging, food and admission to the clubs, as well as buying drinks, were adding up.
“It wound up costing each of us up to several hundred dollars just to go out dancing, so enough had become enough,” he says.
This past summer, a few members of the old Reno scene organized an “underground club reunion” at Sidelines Bar and Nightclub in Sparks. The club reunion attracted enough people to fill up the venue. Hollis, encouraged by the apparent success of that night, later approached Sidelines owner David Pennington to propose a monthly alternative night. Pennington agreed to give it a shot, and the first Interzone took place in September. The event is scheduled to take place on the fourth Saturday of every month, except for Dec. 25.
Hollis says the name Interzone is drawn from several inspirations—the novel by William S. Burroughs, the Joy Division song—but it also can refer to a meeting place of old and new songs in the alternative realm.
Hollis, along with friend Russell Fleischhacker, 37, spin at Interzone under the names DJ Squid and DJ Rusty. The playlist from the first Interzone event on Sept. 11 included songs by old-school standards such as My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, but also singles from newer acts like Shiny Toy Guns and She Wants Revenge.
“Rusty seems to focus more on the old stuff and has quite a library of it,” Hollis says. “I tend to focus more on the new stuff, but I found that I really needed to dial it back into the older stuff because folks seem to like it better.”
Hollis says they encourage requests from the audience and have set up a request thread on Interzone’s Facebook page in advance of the next event. Most people who attended the first night were those in the 30-something age group, according to Fleischhacker.
“There definitely was a majority of the ‘old school’ there but there were also a few of the next generation,” he replied via email. “Hopefully, they [will] all bring friends to the next event.”
While the night may have been a chance for some to revisit their youth, Fleischhacker thinks for most people it was about being able to hear the music they want to dance to. He believes that there’s enough interest in Interzone to keep it an ongoing event.
“I think they are out there,” he writes. “We just need to dust them off and provide a regular place for them.”