If it wasn’t for the dozen or so light fixtures hanging from the ceiling and the vibrant hues illuminating the bar and VIP areas, the inside of La Familia Nightclub would be pitch black.
That kind of ambiance is practically a requirement for a nightclub.
The space formerly occupied by Vangarde Arts used to have columns of windows allowing rays of natural light to shine through and enlighten the just-below-street-level venue. Those glass panes have since been darkened, further immersing visitors into its nightclub atmosphere.
Before La Familia Nightclub opened near the end of May this year, owner Lupe Gonzalez said he had to “redo everything” at the 420 Jackson Street location.
“We knocked some walls down, we built a couple of stages and of course the VIP areas,” he said. “We wanted a nightclub atmosphere. I don’t believe we have one here in Sioux City yet. It’s a start to what we want to do and we want to keep improving.”
Gonzalez has plenty of help to do so. His five sisters also own and operate the bar, as well as Mi Familia Mexican Restaurant in South Sioux City. Gonzalez sought to open a bar that not only caters to the Hispanic population in Sioux City, but can also cater to every person in Siouxland.
“We wanted to give a little bit of a different flavor,” said Gonzalez. “For Hispanics, there’s nowhere you can actually bring your wife out and enjoy some Spanish music. There are some bars, but they’re bars. They’re not nightclubs. We really don’t really have anything where you can go sit down and just enjoy some dancing and some good drinks. We took that into consideration and said, ‘Let’s try it!’”
The idea to start a Siouxland nightclub was something Gonzalez has always wanted to do. In fact, that was his initial business project until the South Sioux City restaurant space became available.
“That kind of fell into our lap and everything seemed to line up, so we took on that project first,” Gonzalez said of Mi Familia Mexican Restaurant, which opened five years ago.
The 210 capacity nightclub offers a wide selection of liquor and beer to its 21-and-older crowd.
While the bar isn’t offering Mi Familia Mexican Restaurant’s staple drinks like the Big Daddy Margarita (a 72-ounce marg with a beer dunked in it), La Familia Nightclub still offers the same recipe of margaritas to thirsty customers.
Although a resident of South Sioux City, Gonzalez strived to open the nightclub in downtown Sioux City.
“This was the perfect place for it,” he said. “We’ve been looking around for a couple years. Then we found this spot and [Beau Braunger of NAI United] renovated this for us.”
Three bartenders are currently on-staff at La Familia Nightclub, along with Gonzalez and his sisters who fill in when needed. Currently, the bar is only open two nights a week – 9 p.m to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Gonzalez said the bar will likely be open more days out of the week as the months roll on.
“Once people know we’re here and know the music we play, then I think we’re going to see a lot more people coming in.”
MUSIC, CULTURE, STIFF POURS
As much as La Familia Nightclub needs its unique look and dark mystique, it wouldn’t feel complete without music.
And not just any music. Club music. Music that bumps and grinds and inspires its guests to get up and dance with a Jack and Coke held firmly in one hand. Although some of the music may feature a Spanish flair, the bar is all-inclusive.
Much like Gonzalez’s restaurant which serves to cater customers of all cultures, La Familia Nightclub is for everybody – well, everybody of age to drink alcohol.
“I want to target everybody,” said Gonzalez. “I don’t want to just be exclusive to a certain genre of music. I want to have a little bit of both. We might be playing some English music and then throw in some Spanish, too.”
La Familia Nightclub will also host events like stoplight parties, DJs and concerts. Once the bar has established itself, Gonzalez said he would like to see La Familia Nightclub host soccer clubs and be a home for Oakland Raiders fans for Sunday night football – Gonzalez’s favorite team.
But its primary identity will be that of a nightclub; something Siouxland needed, according to Gonzalez.
“I felt that it was time for a nightclub,” he said. “We’re having to drive down to Omaha, Sioux Falls or sometimes Des Moines just to get that nightclub experience. Why not have it here?
“This is a new venture for us. If you can bring good music, good drinks, good atmosphere, then there’s no reason we can’t have a nightclub here.”