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A Nightlife State of Mind, Part II

The unique aspect of Beat Niq Jazz & Social Club is that it’s at once a bistro and a jazz nightclub.

When it opened in 1997, it took only a year to soar in popularity with jazz aficionados. Access to the club is from Piq Niq Bistro or through a side door located in the alleyway on the side of the Grain Exchange building. The setting is inviting with dim overhead lighting and an intimate, relaxed atmosphere.

An elevated stage at the front and a bar in the corner ensures that no matter where people choose to sit, the stage, and the artists performing on it, will always be visible. The ambiance is accented with thick, velvet drapes and dark tables that are characteristic of European cafés and clubs.

The music is the real star of the show. On any given night, some of the best local and international jazz musicians perform. The sound carries beautifully throughout the room, regardless of where the tables are. Simply put, it is one of the best-sounding clubs in the city.Regulars often take up spots at the booths, near the back of the club where they can listen to the music and survey the whole room. Closer to the stage, however, audiences can hear all the nuances that make jazz so memorable: the strumming of the guitar, the heavy vibrations of a standup bass, and the hissing and popping of the horns.

The closeness with the musicians makes the jazz feel private, appealing to both aficionados and novices to jazz music. Owner Robert Young describes the atmosphere of the club as mature. “There is a youthful energy to the club but it’s different in that it’s more grown-up,” he says. At Beat Niq, on any given night, the clientele ranges from young, college youths to the older, more formal crowd. “This is not a club for young people exclusively,” Young adds. While there is room for people to get up and dance, most enjoy the music from the comforts of their table as they nurse a drink.

When not playing with his band on stage, Beat Niq’s artistic director, Gerry Hebert, takes pride in booking the very best of local and international talent. “There are scores of talented musicians in the city that are routinely requested by guests and we like to include them in the lineup,” says Hebert.

There is a cover charge ranging from $10 to $15 on most nights, but considering that similar clubs in New York and bigger cities charge on average of $40 or more, Beat Niq is able to offer the same, authentic experience at a considerable discount. With Beat Niq’s popularity still growing, the club retains a sense of independence—making it a laid-back, musical experience unlike any other.If you enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, you’ll also like:
The Auburn Saloon
Laurier Lounge
The Oak Room
Opus on 8th
The Rose & Crown
Ship & Anchor Pub
The Unicorn

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, join in the fun at Aussie Rules with their duelling pianos show. The pianists play a range of old and new favourites along with audience requests (especially if you slip them a bill), and everyone is encouraged to sing along. Cover is $7, call for reservations if you want a table.

Calgary is not a friendly city for smokers; puffing up in restaurants is strictly forbidden. But, if your smoke of choice is flavoured and comes out of a water pipe, there are three venues where you can indulge: Café Mediterranean, Narah and La Brava. All three provide patrons with hookah pipes, tall and elaborately crafted vessels that are common at social gatherings around the world, particularly in the Middle East.—Richard Saad

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