Club The Nines Celebrates 9 Years As a True Deep Ellum Haven

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“Be sweet. Be safe. Be great.” These words are written in yellow paint above the front doors of Deep Ellum club The Nines.

Though the words have been there for nearly half of the club’s lifetime, it’s a mantra that reflects the inclusive community that has existed there since day one, when the club opened in 2014 — a community that celebrated its milestone ninth anniversary last Wednesday.

“We’ve been through a lot with this place, and sometimes it’s been tough,” owner and founder Alan Falkner says. “But this milestone is huge for us. […] We’re still there, we’re still going, and we’re not planning on going anywhere.”

While it has been the longest lasting, The Nines was not Falkner’s only business to occupy the space at 2911 Main St. Before the current club, there was the Redlight Lounge, which went through several years of struggling concept changes and extensive remodels. This led to Falkner eventually buying out his partners to become the space’s majority owner. Despite these setbacks, Falkner remained dedicated to the space.

“It’s just my personality. I have a lot of drive,” Falkner says. “I was just determined to make it work.”

Falkner had a vision his other partners just didn’t share. The ever-changing Deep Ellum neighborhood would soon absorb the former “outskirted” building into part of the area’s core. This new and improved location would also help Falkner realize his true goal for the space: to offer a safe and inclusive space for Deep Ellum’s creative community.

Falkner, a multi-faceted body artist widely recognized as the “Father of Modern Suspension,” is no stranger to strangeness. His deep roots in both counterculture and Deep Ellum helped inspire him to create a club space where patrons and live performers of all mediums could gather.

Since opening, The Nines has hosted a variety of shows and performances, ranging from DJs and drag queens to suspension artists and aerialists. Falkner says presenting such acts is just The Nines’ way of supporting and including Deep Ellum’s artistic community over the years.

“The heart and soul of Deep Ellum is art and music, and if you get rid of all the artists and get rid of all the musicians, what is Deep Ellum?” Falkner says. “We’re still a very small cog in the big machine, but we do our part to try to keep artists, musicians, DJs, performers, everything, employed and down here.”

Others have also been at The Nines since the club’s early days, like consultant Corey Howe, who Falkner says was “instrumental in the creation of Nines.” Howe has worn many hats with the business, including as former general manager and first joined as a shareholder with the intention of staying on for only six months. He has since taken a step back from larger roles to focus on the pair’s other project, bar and venue Charlie’s Star Lounge, but he has found that The Nines, and those who play a part in it, are too special to leave entirely.

“Nines only exists in this universe,” Howe says. “For a business and a building in general to mean that much to a person is pretty wild. A lot of awesome things have happened to me, to other people, because of that place, and I feel really grateful and special to be able to witness and help create that.”

The Nines staff say they frequently see their love for the place reflected by regulars who come in every weekend. What started as a place for people to party has evolved into a tight-knit community of its own. Patrons and staff alike have helped celebrate one another’s milestones and offer support when others are down. Those who frequent the club have grown to know each other and often get more out of the building than just a good drink and a good time.

“I’ve gotten some best friends out of it, some really good friends out of it, some really good acquaintances, even,” says bar manager Thomas Kilgore. “When I go out in the Deep Ellum area, knowing people, being able to share a connection, share a friendship — I love it. I wouldn’t have worked anywhere else.”

The Nines celebrated alongside those who have supported the club for years with an anniversary party on Oct. 25. Sponsored by Tequila Herradura, the event included DJs Love Buzz, Papi Wave, Imperial D and Dance of Eternal Shadows.

For Falkner, this celebration marked more than nine years of memories at The Nines. With one year left on the club’s lease, he says it looks like he will be able to renew and stick around in Deep Ellum for another five years.

“I mean, 10 years would obviously be the big milestone, but the fact that we’re going to continue in the same spot is huge for us,” Falkner says. “We get to keep pivoting and growing right along with Deep Ellum.”

One of Falkner’s main goals is to expand The Nines’ live performances with burlesque and drag shows, but he says all he can truly hope for the club is longevity. Deep Ellum has been Falkner’s home and hangout for as long as he can remember, and he has seen it evolve countless times. He can’t predict what Deep Ellum’s landscape may look like down the line (though he believes the development of a few corporate Starbucks may loom in the district’s future), but he knows his love for his home turf will remain the same.

“I have an emotional stake in the neighborhood,” Falkner says. “For us, this isn’t about a quick buck. This is about longevity, this is about supporting the neighborhood, this is about providing a safe place for our patrons. I’m always trying to look at the long game and the bigger picture.”

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