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Sunday, January 25, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 28.0° F  Overcast
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A taste of Segredo's new Liquid lounge
The downtown EDM club hopes to lure young professionals with fancy cocktails and intimate acoustic shows
The vibe is swanky yet relaxed.
Credit:Kelsey Lawson

Segredo, the popular electronic music venue at 624 University Ave., has added a high-end hangout designed to draw monied young professionals. In the midst of a summer renovation, the club created a new 21-and-over lounge dubbed Liquid. After a soft opening last weekend, the spot is now ready to bring high-class nightlife to visitors eager to dance and drink.

"We got new lighting and designs in at Segredo, and we wanted to do something different, to offer something for the older crowd," says assistant general manager Ny Bass.

Since Segredo is very close to the UW campus, it caters to an 18-and-over crowd. When assessing the space for the renovation project, Bass and owner Michael Hierl realized the potential to serve a somewhat different audience in a side room.

"We looked at our side room that we use for private events, which has about a 250-person capacity, and we remodeled the whole thing," Bass says.

That included adding a video projection setup that creates 3D imagery behind the bar. It's modeled on a similar setup at the Chicago club ROOF.

The drink list will befit the swanky vibe as well.

"We're upgrading the drinks to handcrafted cocktails," Bass notes. "We'll be creating fresh fruit purees, juices, things like that, in addition to a wine program."

The small-plates dining trend gets a twist in the form of sweet and savory crepes, which Liquid will offer all night.

Meanwhile, a state-of-the-art QSC Pro sound system is bound to attract music fans.

"You can really feel the music, but it's really mellow," Bass notes.

Liquid's first show features Grammy-nominated trance artist BT, as well as Christian Burns and Antics. Taking place on July 24, it will be presented in association with the concert-promotion company React Wisconsin.

To preserve its intimate vibe, the lounge will cap ticket sales at 150 or so.

"At Segredo, our big artists might sell 400 to 1,000 tickets," Bass says. "Liquid will offer live acoustic sessions, jazz sessions and also EDM acts. This is a more intimate setting, with more interaction with the artist."

Musicians will be placed in the center of the room where the audience can get up close and personal.

"People think a DJ's just a DJ, but this way you can watch what's going on behind the table," Bass explains.

React Wisconsin promoter Chris Vrakas says Liquid "means a lot for the [electronic music] scene in Wisconsin as a whole," noting that a 200- to 250-person room fills a key niche for up-and-coming acts that allows club owners and promoters more flexibility when booking artists.

The addition of a midsize venue could bolster the local EDM scene by attracting artists who can't yet fill a 1,000-person room, as well as out-of-state acts that prefer small venues and might not otherwise stop in Madison on their way to Milwaukee or Chicago.

"It opens up a lot of doors to bring in these mid-level EDM acts and build them up from a smaller room into a bigger room," Vrakas says. "If I'm doing a show [in Milwaukee or Chicago] on a Friday and flying a DJ in from L.A., and I can put the artist at Liquid the night before, I can kill two birds with one stone."

Liquid will not charge a cover fee, and the dress code will be casual.

"A lot of money's been put into this: plush seating, wraparound booths, leather high tops," Bass says. "It will really cater to young professionals looking for something to do on this side of the Capitol."

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