Editor’s Note: Bazal Gallery and Nightclub is on track to officially announce its opening date soon. Watch this space for details.
When I first came across Bazal Gallery and Nightclub, I was both intrigued and confused. I was on the QC Social Lounge website and browsing through all the VIP experiences Charlotte’s current catalog of nightclubs has to offer. With my birthday approaching, I longed for a reason to spend it in Charlotte (and my wallet too).
Just when I was about to give up, I found my reason. There, on the home page of QC Social Lounge, was a link to the new nightclub coming soon to the AvidXchange Music Factory. After some searching for details, I was sold.
It was once home to Charlotte’s iconic nightlife, known as Butter.
When Butter closed, it became ClubONE.
Now belongs 950 North Carolina Music Factory Blvd. to Bazal, a scene that is poised to become one of Charlotte’s top nightlife destinations to date.
One address, two themes
“It grew out of something unique, something was missing,” club owner Noi Vong told CharlotteFive. “The idea came when I realized there was nothing I know that can offer the best of both worlds.”
The idea Vong mentions refers to the ambitious concept, one that is completely unique to Charlotte’s nightlife. Bazal (pronounced “Bah-zil”) is a two-storey establishment that houses a bright and modern art gallery on the top floor and a dark, seductive nightclub on the bottom floor.
Two worlds with the same contrast as “heaven and hell,” said Vong.
Owning nightclubs was ‘never part of the plan’
Vong, who also owns QC Social Lounge in Uptown, met us at the doors of Bazal one day last week with a friendly smile and a firm handshake. Gentle, welcoming, and host to a contagious laugh that follows almost every sentence, he’s certainly not the kind of person you’d expect from a nightclub.
Owning nightclubs was never even something he dreamed of.
“It was never part of the plan. I grew up in a restaurant family,” says Vong. “How the nightlife now became my life … it was completely by accident.”
Vong was thrown into Charlotte’s nightlife around 2007, when he became involved with the defunct club formerly known as “RE:PUBLIC”. His experience with RE:PUBLIC inspired him to run a nightclub of his own.
“I quickly realized there were so many things wrong with it, with the surgeries and how things were done, the people who came. It became a challenge for me to make the (nightlife) better,” said Vong.
So Vong started shaking up the nightlife in Charlotte by opening QC Social Lounge, and he vowed to run it honestly.
No shady back rooms at this club
That is also his goal with Basal. In a perfect world, nightclubs are free of shady backrooms and run a bit more like a “Fortune” 500 company with systems, Vong said.
Still, like a nightlife career, Bazal wasn’t even something Vong envisioned until he toured the venue.
“I wasn’t looking to do (Bazal). It wasn’t until the space became available that it really piqued my interest,” explains Vong. “I didn’t have any designs, I just started working on it and built it up as we went along. It is a kind of work of art in itself.”
And that’s it.
The walls above are decorated with original artwork by both local and foreign artists. Every inch of the place is covered with gold finishes or white marble. The furnishings are tasteful and the drinks menu features spirits, elegant craft cocktails and unique spirits from around the world.
When asked about the rest of the drinks menu, Vong reassured us by explaining that customers can still order their vodka Red Bulls and shots of tequila at the nightclub downstairs.
The clash of the two very different scenes is a concept so unheard of that I couldn’t help but ask where it came from. Vong said the concept was born out of necessity.
“As more and more people are moving here from other markets that are well traveled and cultivated, we have nothing to offer them,” Vong said. “God knows we have plenty of breweries, right?”
VIP clubs, without the plane ticket
“It would be great to do something super cool that could put Charlotte on the map as a nightlife destination,” he said. “Something that can be stylish and luxurious and have a real VIP experience without having to go to Vegas or New York.”
And he is right. Without establishments like Bazal, Charlotte’s nightlife lacks venues that are tasteful, sophisticated, and truly special. Most of the nightclubs in the area have sticky floors and a crowd that hasn’t outgrown the fireball stage yet.
That’s why I often fly to New York City on the weekends instead of hanging out in Charlotte. Until now, no bar or club could compete with the nightlife I frequent up north.
When I told Noi about my habit of running back home at the weekend to avoid sipping beer at breweries on the weekend, he laughed. But he also understood.
“From my banking friends to the influencers, even the celebrities and athletes who are local, they say the exact same thing: Well, since Butter, there’s really no reason for us to be here,” Vong said.
When asked about the crowd he hopes to attract with Bazal, Vong replied quickly.
“I imagine I see people who look like you. Travelled,” he said. “People seeking an exalted experience and those who have never experienced it before.”
Then I asked Noi what it is about Bazal that keeps people coming back for more, and this time he took a long pause to think about his answer. Finally he replied, “The atmosphere.”
This story was originally published May 25, 2022 6:15 a.m.