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Pagoda Shifts From ‘Global Soul’ to Vegas-style Lounge

In Clubs
Photo by Aron Cooperman.

Photo by Aron Cooperman.

After a three-year run at Pagoda Lounge, Universal Grammar promoter Tommy Aguilar announced online this week he is parting ways with the Fairmont hotel nightclub.

“I would like to say much love to all of those who have dropped in to the Pagoda at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose over the last three years to encounter one of the globetrotting artists we have been able to host on that stage,” Aguilar wrote on Facebook. “We are saddened to say that our programming within the Pagoda will now be over. However, we are also excited for the future as for the mission that Universal Grammar and NewSense (Michael Grammer) set out to accomplish.”

Filling a much-needed niche in the San Jose scene for touring performers from what Aguilar calls the “global soul” spectrum, the list of past acts that touched down at Pagoda is impressive, considering the intimate setting: Little Dragon the same week as two sold-out shows in San Francisco, veteran rapper Talib Kweli, jazz pianist Robert Glasper, soul singer Cody CusnuTT and just recently a double bill Aguilar helped organize for C2SV Music Festival with the Coup and Dam-Funk.

“Our influences in what we book and bring to shows is what we listen to and that stems to a common denominator of soul music,” Aguilar says. “The idea we tried to put out there was this global groove idea with no boundaries. … We also wanted to bring out what was next, emerging artist.”

But that “global groove” wasn’t accompanied by big profits, a motivator for the Fairmont Hotel’s new food and beverage director Christopher Pageaud to make a change, according to Aguilar.

“The Fairmont just pretty much stepped to me, new management in place, and said we need to move on and we’re going to bring in something else,” he says.

Pageaud could not be reached for comment about plans for the space, but local promoter Mauricio Mejia confirmed he is taking over with Saturday night events at the space.

“We going to create more of a consistent weekly lounge type of environment, with open format music and DJs,” Mejia says.

Mejia owns Detox Sundays pool parties, last held at the Fairmont’s pool, and formerly owned the Vault nightclub and consulted at Axis. His first parties at the Pagoda next month include regulars in the Las Vegas scene DJ Zhaldee (Nov. 9), from the Hard Rock Hotel’s Body English Party; DJ Mike Carbonell (Nov. 16), a resident DJ at Wynn Hotel and Tryst Nightclub; and DJ Fabian (Nov. 23) of Encore Hotel’s XS. Local DJs will be booked in the weeks that follow.

Aguilar’s run at Pagoda will end with three more shows: Kaytranada on Oct. 18, Hiatus Kaiyote on Oct. 31 and finishing with a Day of the Dead party on Nov. 1 with the last of his Sonido Clash series featuring Tijuana band Los Macuanos.

After that, he says the Universal Grammar mission will continue with occasional shows at Café Stritch and Blackbird Tavern.

“We just have to create a new outlet, which is building a new venue or finding a team that will work with us,” he says.

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Matt Crawford is content director for Boulevards New Media, Inc. and Metro Newspaper and managing editor of SF Station. Follow him @Metro_Matt.

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