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Club Life

The Vault Ultra Lounge
81 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose; 408.298.1112; www.vaultultralounge.com

By Jim Harrington

Hours: Mon-Wed 3-10pm; Thu-Fri 4pm-2am; Sat 9pm-2am; 21-plus, $10 cover charge after 9pm Thu-Sat, dress code enforced
Amenities: Happy hour 4-8pm, Thu-Fri; two dance floors with DJs spinning a mix of Top 40, old-school hip-hop and house; two full-service bars, VIP room with bottle service, ATM, coat check

ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED to open as early as May, the Vault Ultra Lounge nearly missed the whole summer, but the downtown San Jose club clearly appears ready to make up for lost time. After more than a year of planning, renovation and delays, the Vault finally unlocked its doors to the general public on Aug. 5. The grand-opening party drew a capacity crowd of downtown bigwigs, government muckety-mucks and curious locals, who came out to shake their rumps to DJs spinning R&B and house and get the first look at this hotly anticipated club. "It was just one big crazy party," summarized Mauricio Mejia, the Vault's managing partner.

That initial wave of success would wash into the weekend as the Vault drew sellout crowds each night and prompted very enthusiastic responses from club-goers. The one word that Mejia kept hearing over and over again was "Wow." That's probably a good word for the place. The upscale club definitely looks different from other local dance spots.

Prominently located on Santa Clara near Market, the Vault is housed in an old savings and loan building, reportedly one of the first such establishments to open in California. Instead of obliterating the past to make way for the future, the Vault has embraced its history and artfully incorporated many of the original bank features into the club renovation. For instance, dancers can shake their thangs under the large blue stained-glass ceiling decorated with American eagles and then cool off by sipping some cold ones near the two original vaults. Other distinctive visuals include some stunning hand-painted trim on the ceiling and an elaborate wooden staircase that takes guests from the front door to the views from the second floor.

Pick your poison at one of two regular bars or act like Jay-Z and take advantage of the bottle service in the attractive VIP room, which features a fireplace, wooden walls, plush carpet and a huge skylight. Also, choose your groove from hot tunes dished out on two different dance floors. The front room features DJs spinning House and classic '80s tunes and the backroom takes a more down-tempo and R&B direction. Clearly, if this place lives up to its potential, or somehow manages to keep pace with opening weekend, the owners will need the old bank vaults to store up all the loot they'll rake in.

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From the August 11-17, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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