New Philly food and drink

Concourse Dance Bar: A sticky, glittery, time-warping nightclub beneath Center City

Just make sure you eat before you go.

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Tim Blackwell / @shotsfired215
monicazorilla-creditdanyahenninger-feb2018

No one wants to be labeled an “adult child” or be known as the grownup who still hasn’t grown up. Maturity is attractive. Once you hit certain aging milestones, the Peter Pan act starts losing its appeal. But there’s still always that inner kid, the one desperate for a release after being harnessed beneath layers of pantsuits, penciling-in and rent payments.

Philly has a new solution to the quarter-life crisis: Concourse Dance Bar.

At restaurateur Avram Hornik’s reimagined Neverland — which opened last month and lays in wait for weekends like buried treasure, below ground level inside Suburban Station — not acting your age is encouraged.

For one thing, there’s the slide.

At about six feet in length (not two stories, as was originally imagined), it’s definitely childproof. There’s no one under 21 here, but the safety features are just as useful for party guests who hit the BYOB a little too hard before getting stamped in.

“The greeters here actually love to get guests to slide into the bar,” said Concourse manager Dana Canalichio, “rather than walk into it. And it’s perfectly safe!”

As Canalichio explained this on a recent Saturday night, the sound of a remixed Ride Wit Me bounced off of faux-fur trimmed pillars and ricocheted off the beer-stained backs of a group of 20-something dudes in their best “going out” denim.

Winding through barstools perched on Persian-style rugs, and striding past a giraffe made of mirrors that reflected neon onto the crowd, Canalichio noted that the quirky interior design came to Hornik — who also runs Morgan’s Pier, the Dolphin Tavern and the forthcoming Craft Hall — “in a dream.”

It must have been the kind of fever dream that comes after consuming every sweet inside a piñata. Or potentially the kind of cocktails served at Concourse, which tilted toward the sugary side.

Either way, the result is a visually entertaining nightclub, with plenty of fun to cannonball into.

The main attraction is the ball pit, which contains tens of thousands of sanitized white plastic orbs floating in a pool. It’s enough to tempt even the grandma of your group to bellyflop in.

If you do, a word of caution: Hang onto your belongings.

“We find phones in here all the time, jewelry too. Wallets, SEPTA cards, keys, you name it,” Canalichio said, as a selfie was thwarted behind her when two giggly gals got pushed into the plastic-baubled abyss by their dates.

“The funniest thing to see is when people hold their noses to go in!” she continued. “I mean, they really forget it isn’t an actual pool?”

If you want to get in on the “swimming” fun, you have to plan ahead. There’s often a two hour wait list for the pit. However, it’s reservation-based, so no lines. You can spend your time kicking back and sipping a New Phone, Who Dis? on plush zebra-print upstairs, or bump n’ grind to Bump N’ Grind on the massive dance floor below.

Important to note: The line to enter Concourse from the street is another story.

A rarity for nightclubs, the venue begins to burst with life within the first half-hour of doors opening (5 p.m. Fridays, 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays), and there’s no cover charge.

“Our happy hour on Fridays is getting increasingly more popular,” said Canalichio. “People are so into the scene that they end up staying from 5 p.m. until closing.”

Hope those all-night partiers brought snacks, because Concourse does lack a key component: food.

Which is important for a club. When you’ve had too much Sex On The Beach, sometimes you need a slider (or a pierogi, or a mozzarella stick, or something) to offset the gradual liver damage and to dampen the raging hangover the morning after.

The only option is a hot dog cart, which is set up after midnight on the stairway landing between the club and the street. You can only access the franks once you leave the club.

That gripe aside, Concourse is a general win for the city. It manages to ooze cool without being exclusive.

Hornik’s time-warping, sticky, glittery ode to the misunderstood generation attracts a varied crowd. There are folks in mesh tanks, folks in slinky side-boob ensembles, folks in J.Crew, and folks in flannel. There are those who know every lyric to “A Milli,” those who immediately recognize mascara-smeared Courtney Love in the music video being projected behind the bar, and those who are happy to obliviously head-bob to it all.

This isn’t a place for romance, this isn’t a place for snobbery, this is a place for fun. Period.

Escaping the 9-to-5 humdrum on the weekends through craft beer and pub fare is relatively easy in Philadelphia, but few establishments offer you the opportunity to briefly escape adulthood.

Concourse Dance Bar does. Slide right in.