Live music found another home on the east end of Chapel Hill recently. The Wetlands Dance Hall opened its doors this spring in the space formerly known as the Tree House in the three-level building on the corner of Rosemary and Henderson streets. The club stands on ground level between Bub O’Malley’s Pub above, and Hell down below (naturally). It’s been a dramatic change from the boisterous dance club to a venue welcoming live bands, a variety of local DJs and a powerful sound system. Brothers Saula and Allen Finau bought out the club space from a former partner of Saula’s, with a mission to bring in bands and diverse music. As strictly a dance club, the space was very popular, but the Finaus wanted to mix it up.
Allen Finau: “I’ve been managing for them for over a year. My brother was doing British two-step dance nights for a while, and now we can have good, different music in there. Most of the hip hop being played was all about bling and violence, and now we can have music for people to just enjoy.” Wetlands has already put itself on the map of indie rock, electronic and hip-hop enthusiasts. Club-goers accustomed to visiting staple venues toward the West Franklin area and into Carrboro are venturing out to see bands like The Ghost of Rock, Work Clothes and Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan and many other familiar local outfits.
Both brothers are also fans of dance themselves. Allen encourages multi-discipline use of the space. “I’m also trying to make it a place for dance, where people can rehearse and perform. I’ve had break dancing classes and competitions in there. Mighty Hands of Atlas crew and the Swoon Unit crew have been in. And we’ve had some modern dance groups in, and plan on belly dancing and other styles.” In May, the club hosted “Soundscape,” a modern dance and music hybrid event assembled by choreographer Alexis Mastromichalis. A Dizzee Rascal “after-party” also took place there with DJs spinning UK hip hop into the night.
The Wetlands now hosts music events five nights a week on average, with a regular electronic night every Tuesday featuring five DJs for no cover charge. Adding another familiar local side, former Capsize 7 and Lystra member Joe Taylor tends bar and books most bands. For booking info, write email@example.com. At Wetlands, they are aggressively looking to bring more live music to their end of Chapel Hill, a preserve in the wilds of Franklin Street.