In the Montrose section of Houston, just off of Waugh Drive on Commonwealth, sits The Flat. If I were asked to describe it quickly, I’d call it the small club with a big heart. Far away from the insanity of downtown, you’re only dodging leaves and tree roots on the walk up to the big orange door. On the way there, you really have to stop for a minute and admire the building’s artwork. Feeling a bit like awkward stained glass, it completely covers the front of the club, which appears to be converted from a post-modern house—those angular, swanky houses you see in ’70s movies with oversized doorstops and slanted roofs that all go the same direction. Painted on the wall, the words, “Make You Want To Move Your Dancing Feet” couldn’t be more inviting. I showed my ID to the doorman, who, by the way, looked like a beefed-up Billy Idol, and entered the venue.
Inside I noticed that The Flat manages to do an insanely good job with limited space. While narrow, the main bar-front area displays a feeling of roominess. Several tables line the wall, complete with cushy chairs that help influence patrons away from crowding the relatively short bar. If you want to take a break from the music, grab a smoke, or simply step out for a moment, The Flat has an outstanding patio area. Nearly twice as large as the inside, it’s got chairs and wooden tables aplenty and even its own bar. A perfect repose for your dancing feet should you need it.
Tonight’s event would be one for the the old-school. High Five Club, as it is called, is every second Saturday at The Flat. It’s an all-vinyl deep house experience, complete with ambiance to match. I arrived early enough to catch openers Brandon Silva and Joe Dismal, and I’ll be honest. I was unfamiliar with them up until this point, but I will be on the lookout going forward. Both gentlemen did an excellent job of setting the tone and keeping the flow. There were always feet on the floor and the intimacy of the dance floor was magnetizing. It was a bit of a throwback to the days of small, barely lit, concrete stomping grounds where we huddled around the DJs as they spun their wax magic. Even the visuals by Tim Steinke were brilliant, but minimal. I didn’t find that any part of the whole experience took away from any other.
However, tonight I was here for one reason—Amanda Robinson. I first saw her play last year at Praia Urbana and she was hands down one of my favorite DJs that day. Unable to catch another set of hers since, the decision to go out tonight was easy. As soon as she took over, the population of the dance floor doubled and we were underway. Smooth transitions and great flow encompassed her modest demeanor as we drifted from one track to the next. Not one for bouncing around manically, as most DJs who play things like deep house and techno do not, Amanda does a fantastic job of keeping the attention of partygoers through effortless style instead. Her excellent track selection kept me drifting back and forth between trying to observe as a writer, and wanting to lose myself as another dancing soul amid the crowd of like minds. If you consider vinyl a lost art, then Amanda Robinson is a new renaissance.
I will be returning to The Flat very soon.
(Authors note: Due to time issues, I was unable to catch the closing set by Josh Dupont, another fantastic Houston local who I plan on covering at the next opportunity.)
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