Club Zoo migrates from Strip District to Harmar

Mary Ann Thomas
| Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012

Club Zoo under-21 dance club has moved from the Strip District to Harmar.

The new club for 15- to 20-year-olds -- in the former site of Space, Club Oxygen, Jetz and W.P. Nix -- is set to have its grand opening on Saturday.

The move was prompted by the availability of the property, says owner Chris Firman, and benefits such as large expanses of free parking and closeness of teen-friendly eateries.

"We did a ton of renovation that is state-of-the-art and truly is a million-dollar facility," Firman says.

The 11,000-square-foot, multilevel club will offer entertainment with lighting and sound that rivals any in the city, according to Firman.

The under-21 club first opened in the Parkway Center Mall in the 1990s and moved to the Strip District in 2004. Though the new location is be a little smaller than the Strip District site -- with a capacity for 1,000 people instead of 1,500 -- the room is better, Firman says.

The new location has what Firman touts as the largest dance floor in the area. The room is studded with TV screens fed by live video of the dance floor, accompanied by a host of visual effects including laser light shows.

The environment of the club with its music and visual effects is vital to keep the young patrons coming back.

"You're not promoting drink specials," Firman says. "We're selling a good time for kids to hang out in an environment that is cool and safe."

The Firman family have owned or managed a number of other venues such as the Trib Total Media Amphitheatre at Station Square, and Static dance club and Terror Town, both in the Strip District.

Firman credits Club Zoo's continued success to keeping in touch with area youth via social media like Facebook and Twitter and providing security to head off any problems.

"Why we've been successful is that we're not in business for one day," Firman says. "When we do numbers over 1,000 kids, we might turn away 200 to 300 people because of dress code and poor attitudes."

The 23 descriptors in the dress code indicate how seriously Club Zoo is about its security. Included is no bandanas, skull caps, designs shaved into hair, oversized pants or shorts, work boots, weapons, charms of any kind and numbered sports jerseys with team logos.

"We want kids to have good time but we have to have rules and regulations," Firman says.

The club will supplement their security with Harmar Township police, he says.

"I tell parents that I'm 25 years old, and I know that it's a lot easier to find trouble at a house party than an underage club where they can socialize, have a good time without the influence of alcohol," Firman says. "It's a safe environment, and it's controlled."

Additional Information:

Club Zoo

What: Under-21 dance club

When: 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Grand opening is Saturday.

Admission: $15 for the first visit; $12 admission for later visits with Club Zoo VIP card

Where: 2801 Freeport Road, Harmar

Details: 412-201-1100 or

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