POSTED ON AUGUST 7, 2013:
Downtown Boot Scootin'
Legends brings new-school country dancehall
Word is out: Downtown Tulsa's nightlife is getting a facelift this weekend as country music finally comes to the Blue Dome District. Opening this Friday night, Legends takes over the space at 514 E. 2nd St. and turns what was formerly a huge rock club (previously Flytrap Music Hall) into downtown Tulsa's newest and largest dance hall.
This time out, the space is being managed by Blake Ewing's Blue Ox Dining Group, the latest addition to the group's ventures, which include Joe Momma's Pizza, Back Alley Blues & BBQ, The Max Retropub, Boomtown Tees and The Phoenix.
The club will officially be christened this Friday, August 9, with a grand opening party which will include a ticket giveaway for the Rascal Flatts concert at BOK Center the following night. Legends will have an early opening for fans to enjoy their pre- as well as post-concert experience.
When discussing the club's direction and vision with Ewing, he shared that the venue will be "primarily a dancehall with DJ's playing country music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. We'll also host some live music, but that will be on off nights, unless it's danceable."
With 14,000 square feet, Ewing said that the building can accommodate a number of different events, but he knew immediately how to best utilize the space.
"There's one kind of club, in my mind, that has sustainability," he shared. "Other dance and rock clubs turn over and change names and reopen, but country music is different. It just made sense for this location with the history that Tulsa has with country music to do something like this downtown."
Although the size of the room has proven to be a slight challenge, Ewing admitted that "the other obstacle has been the reputation of that location from other establishments. That's part of what we're trying to do, though, is scrub that clean and start fresh."
"We haven't had a whole lot of entertainment options downtown, but that has begun to change over the last couple of years with Dustbowl Lanes and a couple of others. Dancing, especially country dancing, just made sense for this location," Ewing said. "It's got the space, it's already built out with three bars, and all of the infrastructure is basically intact, so we knew what we wanted to do with it right away."
"We've had our crew in here for about a month, five days a week, mostly redecorating and cleaning the place up," he continued. "That way we'll be able to open and look good, but being open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, we've still got Monday through Thursday during the day to continue to make improvements and do some renovations. It's not complete yet -- we've still got a big neon sign coming and a little more work to do, but it's looking good and we'll be ready to open."
Ewing knew from the beginning that his crew was going to have a lot of work to get done in order to open on time, as once he knew he was taking over the space, he also had a defined target for opening.
"The initial goal for me was to be ready and try to open in time for the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event at BOK Center (August 16-17)," Ewing said. "Then, when they announced that Rascal Flatts was rebooked for this weekend, we knew it would take a little extra work, but we thought we could get everything done in time for the concert."
Although Legends officially opens on Friday night, Ewing is also holding a preview reception and soft opening on Wednesday night, August 7. "Pete Coors being in Tulsa for the Drillers game that night was just serendipitous," Ewing said. "Everything just fell into place and made sense, so we'll be running a Coors special and using the night to preview the place."
Of course, with 14,000 square feet, Ewing has a lot of space to work with, and he has plans to take advantage of it. "The room will be available for private parties and events and we're still trying to figure out some daytime things. We might possibly try an afternoon yoga and lunch thing, but that's still to be determined," he said.
Mostly, however, Ewing is looking to put the space to best use possible. With office space already laid out in the upstairs of the building, Ewing said, "We've moved the corporate offices for Blue Ox into the upstairs and we've been building up the offices as well."
Part of the quick development of the space is due to Ewing's vision and direction and part has been due to the landlord's flexibility with the space. "The owners just wanted to see it put to good use and they were very enthusiastic when we came to them and inquired about the space, so it's all gone pretty smoothly," he said.
Above all else, though, Legends will be making its mark as a country dance hall and Ewing has a distinct vision and direction for making it work. The dance hall will be open from 9pm to 2am, Thursday through Saturday, and will open early for pre-show festivities on nights that BOK Center is hosting fitting events like country concerts and the PBR.
"We'll open at 5pm as a pre-show destination," Ewing said. "We're just across 2nd Street from the arena and that's how a lot of people leave already, so we want to be the logical place they stop for a drink before and after the show. We'll also run a shuttle to the arena, so people can park, have a drink, and take a shuttle to the show."
Additional plans that are in the works include offering dancing lessons in the early evening. "The thought is people can have a date night, take a couple dance lessons so they know all the line dances, then go out to dinner and come back later to dance the rest of the night."
More details are sure to emerge about those plans in the near future, but as for now, Legends opens its doors and makes its debut this weekend to establish itself as Tulsa's newest country dancehall and the only truly country venue in downtown Tulsa. If you're headed downtown and looking to get out and line dance or maybe just looking for a good place to stop in before or after that next big country show, you've now got the perfect place to go. And if you stop in this Friday night for the grand opening, you might even get to kick things off right by winning tickets to Friday night's Rascal Flatts show with The Band Perry and Cassadee Pope at BOK Center, giving you a good reason to return Saturday for your pre-show and after-party celebrations.
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