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Club Zoo makes its return to Pittsburgh's Strip District

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 8:58 p.m.
Club Zoo in the Strip District gets a new sign Thursday, Janaury 10, 2013 by The Neon Doctor. HEIDI MURRIN
Club Zoo gets a new sign in the Strip District Thursday, January 10, 2013. HEIDI MURRIN
Club Zoo will be opening back up in the Strip District. Taken Thursday, January 10, 2013. HEIDI MURRIN
Club Zoo will reopen in its former three-level 20,000-square-foot warehouse-style location. CLUB ZOO

Attention under-21 party-goers: Club Zoo is coming back to the Strip District after its one-year road trip to Harmar.

The prodigal dance club will reopen Saturday in the same three-level 20,000-square-foot warehouse-style location it once occupied — at 1630 Smallman St.

Coming with it are its high-energy dance music, cache of wall TVs and light shows.

“Our Twitter feed crashed a couple times. The anticipation is through the roof,” says Chris Firman, the club's director of operations. “We're happy to be coming back to the Strip.”

Club Zoo is owned by the Firman family, which has owned or managed a number of other venues, such as the Trib Total Media Amphitheater at Station Square, and Static dance club and Terror Town, both in the Strip District.

The under-21 club first opened in the Parkway Center Mall in the 1990s and moved to the Strip District in 2004. It moved to Harmar in January 2011, occupying an 11,000-square-foot, multi-level building on Freeport Road that once housed former hotspots “Space,” “Club Oxygen,” “Jetz” and “W.P. Nix.”

The Harmer location had its pluses, including the largest dance floor for miles and free parking.

In the end, its biggest drawback was its location. Much of Club Zoo's clientele is from Pittsburgh, mainly the South Hills, some 20 to 35 minutes away.

Club Zoo's address may change, but its security measures will not.

It will continue to enforce a strict dress code. Prohibited are bandanas, skull caps, designs shaved into hair, oversized pants or shorts and numbered sports jerseys with team logos.

Up to 15 club managers will rove the club, and each restroom is staffed with an adult attendant to prevent kids from getting unruly.

“We try to be proactive, to make sure problems don't even get a chance to get started,” Firman says.

Becky Rodgers, executive director for the Neighbors in the Strip merchants association, welcomed Club Zoo's return. She says the Firmans did a good job of ensuring safety during the club's last go-around in the area, and that she was confident its security was sufficient this time.

“With any nighttime business, you ask that they be good neighbors to the community,” she says. “The Firmans were good at doing that.”

Club Zoo under-21 dance club will be open from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Grand opening is Saturday. Details: 412-201-1100 or www.clubzoo.net

Chris Ramirez is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5682 or cramirez@tribweb.com.

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