The Hot Spot: Scott Gertner’s Skybar, Houston TX

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So one day in July of last year, I was sitting at my computer on Facebook reading some funny posts.  And I get a phone call from one of my friends asking me if I heard the news that Skybar was closing.  I laughed and I said “no way that place is always packed”, then asked him if he was crazy.  So for my piece of mind I called one of the staff and asked if it was true, and to my horror he confirmed my worst nightmare.  Skybar had always been my favorite place to go and dance Salsa.  Hearing that it closed was like hearing that your childhood school burned down.  That place was the one spot in Houston that felt like you were partying in a penthouse club in LA or New York.  And I had been going to Skybar since the first week they offered a Salsa night on Thursdays.  It was a place that you could go to and always have a good time.  And I was always made to feel at home and got the royal treatment from the, Managers, Security, Bartenders, Johnny the Elevator Operator, David Cruz the house DJ, and the house Salsa band Salmerum.  Even Scott Gertner himself always shook my hand and asked me if I was enjoying myself.  If you had never had the pleasure to go to the original Skybar, let me paint a picture for you.  It was a penthouse nite club on the top of a 10-story office building off Montrose and Westheimer.  It had a long glass wall that allowed you to see the city skyline from the dance floor and the tables.  It had two outdoor patios on each side of the club, one with an outdoor bar.  It was one of the best places in Houston to view fireworks on the fourth of July or to just go out on a cool night and look at the stars and the city melt together.  You knew you were in the right spot when you drove up and looked to the top floor.  Because there you would see the white lights that surrounded the roof of the building and the colored lasers, strobe lights, and sounds that came pulsating through the windows.   Well that is what you missed, and that’s what all the regulars will miss.  Apparently Skybar had to close because the building’s owners failed to make needed repairs and didn’t keep the building up to code.  Scott was maintaining some of the buildings upkeep, especially the parking garage, out of his own pocket so he could remain open.   His staff would walk the entire four-story parking garage and lobby to clean it each night after the club closed.  They would also wipe the windows, and clean the elevators which all of this was supposed to be the buildings owners responsibility.  But that effort on Scott’s part didn’t stop the orange City of Houston stickers that were appearing on all doors listing the the violations and expired permits.  All of that plus several visits from the fire marshals about the building were the final straw.  So in July enough was enough and he closed the doors to a Houston legend forever.  Keep in mind Skybar wasn’t just a place for Salsa dancing, as a matter of fact they primarily played R&B and Jazz every other night.  And It has had many famous entertainers on its stage, people like Luther Vandross, Patti Labelle, the Ojays, Brian McKnight, Chick Corea, Bob James, and even Comedian Steve Harvey.  And of course Scott being a three time Grammy nominee himself, would perform there also.  And not just entertainers came to Skybar but a lot of local professional athletes from the Rockets, Astros, Comets, and Dynamos would go to hang out, as well as out of town athletes.  Any night you could walk through the door and maybe rub elbows with athletes like Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Shaq, Mutombo, Jose Lima, and many others, they all made Skybar their regular hangout.   It truly was the end of a Houston legend, but all was not lost Scott already had plans for a new Skybar.  Plus he had already open Scott Gertners Sports bar at 3100 Fountainview a few years back to give his patrons a second place to hangout.  They even brought the Salsa crowd there for a short time, but the rough floor proved to be a problem for the Salsa dancers.  So ultimately it remained just a Sports bar, and the best place for the avid sports fans to enjoy a drink, watch a game and listen to live music.  So after months and months of rumors and waiting and hoping the NEW Skybar was finally opened.  Its proper name now is ”Scott Gertners at the Houston Pavilion”, but myself and all my fellow Salseros still call it Skybar.  It’s located at 1201 Fannin, suite 300 (corner of Dallas and Fannin) on the third floor of the Downtown Pavilion complex.  And it is a even greater more chic place to party than the original Skybar.  It has a huge dance floor, an awesome stage, a VIP area, and several bars scattered throughout the club.  Plus two sets of restrooms, an outdoor patio, and a full service kitchen that serves many types of food during club hours.  The new club has an occupancy of 700 people and is 13,000 square feet, that’s much larger than the old Skybar that was only 10,000 square feet.  And guess what is not even done yet, Scott is still working to complete It.  When its completely done it will be a bi-level club featuring three outdoor patios, a green room for performers, and various VIP areas.  The rooftop will feature an outside bar, couches, cabanas and its own DJ for a separate party experience.  This new club in Scott’s own words “is an extension of the Skybar, only on the next level”.  And what else is new you may ask?  There is a new house band right now, Grupo Kache, featuring local Houston legend Rudy Rincon.  And you can see occasional Samba performances from Lucia Dargam’s LD dance company.  And they have new lovely ladies serving food and drinks, plus two beautiful Salsa/hip hop gogo dancers, dancing above the main stage.  New security staff, cashiers, and managers.  But not everyone is new, there are still lots of familiar faces that make this new Skybar still feel like home.  Edgar Lefort my favorite bartender is still there and a few of the others made the transition as well.  DJ David Cruz is still spinning the hits, Ruby and Darnell are still teaching the free Salsa class.  Even my good buddy Vern is still hooking us up with cologne and other stuff in the mens restroom.  Just like all of them I have made this new Skybar my home and I will watch it grow and become the new legendary spot to dance Salsa on Thursdays, its already off to a great start, the only thing missing is for the rest of you to come and join us.

by Anthony Hombrebailador

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DarnellJosie

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