It was a sunny Saturday morning as I walked through SODO on my way to 110 S. Horton Street. What used to be Studio Seven is now a modern-day Studio 54 owned and operated by Zac Levine. He has renovated and revitalized the space into a highly immersive and atmospheric arts and entertainment venue called Supernova.
I grew up going to shows at Studio Seven, so I was incredibly excited to see what he had done with the place. He walked me through the renovated space, giving me insight into every little detail that went into creating this magical wonderland.
The entrance used to be at any one of the doors that led directly to the stage area. Now the entry way takes you up stairs to a long brightly colored hallway. Zac told me, “When you walk in, I wanted to have these hallways and not just have people walk in off of the street, because I think it’s so important to transport people to another dimension. You know, we’re selling escapism. I really want people to be taken to a whole other world.”
At the top of the stairs you pass by coat check, which “…is totally free. It’s an amenity here. We don’t believe in nickel and diming people in a city where you need a jacket 80% of the year.”
He gave me a sneak peak into the drag queen and costume performers dressing rooms, and the lavish staff lounge, which includes “a washer, dryer, shower, full restroom and a kitchen. I want our staff to feel comfortable to either prepare here or get out of their costume and feel comfortable going home.”
That leads us to the second hallway.
Now, “this is the interactive funhouse Infinity Mirror Hallway. We have five buttons here and we want to encourage people to press a button. Please don’t go H.A.M. on my buttons, just press a button and enjoy the experience. One’s Mario Kart, One’s our ode to Prince’s Purple Rain. We have some ping-pong, and a space themed one.”
“Patrons walk down the Infinity Mirror Hallway and at the end they are greeted by our 1972 7-Up soda machine. You walk through the soda machine and onto the floor of the mezzanine of the discotheque. Here you see plenty of classic Seattle street signs. As well as, The VW bus bar; I found this VW bus, the nose clip and the two doors at a junkyard in Renton and we fully refabbed it and clear coated it. I wanted it to have this retro-futuristic kind of look. My friend Katie did this acrylic pour on the top, so we have this really psychedelic bar top. We wired up the lights and, yeah, that’s the mezzanine bar.”
He took me behind the bar to show me a cool detail to their drink specials. “We’re doing funky cups for some of our specialty drinks, like our Electric Lemonade is served in a light bulb. Our Disco Punch is going to be served in a disco ball.”
A variety of drinks will be available. Zac explained to me that, “we firmly believe that alcohol is not the only drink to be consumed when partying. There’s many people in our community who choose to not drink alcohol but would like to come out and experience the event. We want to offer as many opportunities for them to engage with our bar as possible and in a healthy manner. We’re offering Yerba Mate, we have Recess CBD sodas mixed with magnesium, and lemongrass and ginseng. We have all kinds of different beverage options in addition to the standard juice and soda and Redbull. We really want people to feel comfortable here.”
Next to the mezzanine bar is a colorful sensory comforting lounge.
“The general admission lounge is for people who just want to have a conversation or maybe they just need a moment to chill out. I want everything to be fully immersive and engaging. I want people to be fully enveloped within the venue.” said Levine.
While there is the general admission lounge, you can also reserve a table for a party of your own. “On the mezzanine we have two VIP tables upstairs and two VIP tables downstairs on the main floor. We are not a VIP-centric club; we’re not catering to the people who want to spend $2,500 on a table, we don’t want those bros. We want people who want to enjoy and celebrate a birthday or a bachelorette party and have it be reasonably priced.”
Before heading downstairs, Zac turned on the spinning Pegasus statue that hangs from the ceiling. Across the room on the wall you can see a ten foot disco-bull and in the center of the stage you can see the ten foot disco ball DJ booth.
“We have bubbles and snow machines on either side. We have confetti cannons on the stage. There are rigging posts for aerialists, as you can see, our lasers. We have the biggest, baddest nightclub sound system of any venue in the Pacific Northwest, I’d say. This is a hybrid Funktion-One, Turbosound system that was custom built just for this venue. It has this really cool analog vibe to it. With all of the lights and everything, I wanted it to be tactile and really capture the energy of the discotheque.”
Walking downstairs, I couldn’t believe that this used to be the grimy club I went to so often in my youth.
“So, here you see our dance floor which is a black and white spiral that you almost look like you’re going to fall into. My goal with this venue is that every single place that you look, there’s something to look at, there’s something to be engaged with.”
He continued to impress me with more and more details that sounded like a real dream come true. “There’s satellite speakers everywhere so it sounds good anywhere you are. We want to remove everybody staring at the DJ and staring at the stage and focus it on the atmosphere. It’s all about the atmosphere; every single staff member is a theatrical cast member. We want every single patron to feel like they’re a part of the party. Over here is our telephone booth, but you have to keep going because, wait, there’s more!”
Literally every inch of this venue has something unique and interesting about it.
“Secret photo booth. We got the iPad there, so you know, you can do little GIFs and you can email it to yourself. Everything is just a highly Instagram-able lounge.”
“These are the two main floor VIP sections. This beautiful thing in the corner is our drag queen hosted glitter station and ice cream cart. Come and get your face glittered and grab an ice cream sandwich!”
“We have an all-gender restroom with seven stalls. Each stall is a 360 degree art piece hand-painted by a woman or a person of color. Every three months we’re going to start swapping out some of the stalls and keep new art coming in.”
“Supernova focuses on curating immersive and engaging arts and entertainment. Our goal is intersectional community building. How do we make everybody feel welcome and ensure that we keep our environment safe. The reason Stayin’ Alive became so popular was because it was safe for women and a welcoming safe space for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+. So, how do we translate that to Supernova when we’re taking something and doing it 10x?”
“We never had a dress code before at Stayin’ Alive because it was a niche underground party. But when we’re marketing to the masses now, how do we ensure we keep that energy and it doesn’t get watered down? So, we’re enforcing a dress code, and our dress code is: SPECTACULAR!”
“We’re able to weed out the bros who are there to hunt for women. We can say, no. You guys can take off your polos and get covered in pink glitter by our drag queens. If you want to do that then you can come in but, honey, you can’t come in wearing that shirt. You need to be spectacular! We want to see effort because we don’t want spectators, we want people who want to be a part of the spectacle.”
“One of our cornerstones is a safe space that is inclusive, which means excluding homophobia and bigotry. How we do that before we get people through the door is we let them know by having one of our drag queens out there with a big ol’ pink megaphone saying, of course not in this diction, “Hey motherfuckers, listen up! Welcome to Supernova, this is what we’re about, this is what we’re not about. If you see any of this behavior inside, please don’t hesitate to grab any staff member and we will assist you immediately. If you do any of this stuff, you’re going to be ejected with no refund. Don’t waste your time, don’t waste your money. Come in here and have a good time.”
“I got so tired of four walls and a DJ booth, I wanted experience, I wanted entertainment. So, I traveled to Tokyo, and L.A., and Tel Aviv, and New York, and Santa Fe, and I went and saw all these things that really spoke to me and I said, there’s nothing like this in Seattle. What are all of these elements of different places that I really like and there’s a shit ton of venues that I’ve gone to that I don’t like.”
“I think that creating an inclusive environment and space where any age, size, shape, gender, color, is welcome is essential to the perfect party element. That’s why I joke that we’re the anti-night-club-club, because I fucking hate the phrase night club. We are an atmospheric immersive arts and entertainment venue, first and foremost, this is for the people.”
“How do we ensure that this is the best customer service possible, how do we ensure that this is the best entertainment possible, so that when people come here, they’re not thinking about their work, their family, the stress of their lives, they have just pure uninhibited freedom and escapism and self expression for four to eight hours.”
“At Stayin’ Alive, people would always comment on our posts and be like, I wish I had some friends to come out with me, and I would be like, come, everyone is your friend at the discotheque. This place is designed to make friends. Come as you are, in your weird funky threads, whatever you want to wear, that just shows your inner self, and come be you!”
Starting off, Fridays and Saturdays will be $20 to enter before 10pm, and tickets will raise up to $25 after that.
“My goal is to have it fair market value, and to provide over value of customer experience and entertainment for your dollar worth that you’re spending on your ticket. I really want to provide an opportunity to give more value for experience and entertainment and customer service than they are paying for their ticket.”
“We will start on Fridays with our programming called “Thank God It’s Friday,” and it’s like funky house, Chicago house, vocal house, gospel house, bounce house type vibes. Then Saturday is our Staying Alive programming, so we’re keeping with the past, present, and future of disco. Classics, edits, new disco, then going a little bit more vocal house towards the end of the night.”
“Once we’re comfortable with operations we’re very quickly going to add lots of programming; Thursdays, Sundays, early shows on Fridays and Saturdays. We want to incorporate fashion shows, drag performances, comedy shows, wrestling, live concerts, and DJs. I think offering inclusive programming is essential to the growth of Supernova.”
“Our grand-opening weekend we’re going to be working with Beauty Boiz. Beauty Boiz is a queer production company from Seattle that we’ve fully integrated inside of Supernova to help us produce our queer programming. So, 4th of July weekend we are doing a one-week delayed Pride party, so on Sunday of our grand opening weekend, Beauty Boiz will be producing a show called Revival. It’s going to feature shadow-boxing performances, a whole bunch of fun performers and DJ’s and drag queens.”
“We’re starting at 8pm for all of our events, we’re doing 8pm to 4am. As far as I know, we are going to be the only people open until 4am, and if there’s 400 people in here, or there’s 200 people in here, we’ll stay open until 6am. I believe that this is like Disneyland, where if all of our ticket sales happen noon to 4pm, am I going to reduce my hours from 8pm until 6pm? No! I’m going to provide people the full experience, so if people are here and want to party, we want to stay open for them.”
“My belief when I was building this was that the entertainment value of Seattle has not grown in tandem with the economic value of Seattle. Our whole mission is, Seattle deserves an arts and entertainment venue that goes above and beyond to create atmosphere and customer service.”
“We wanted to have a space where people can come and be themselves, dress up in fun outfits. How do you cultivate that atmosphere where women feel safe, and the BIPOC community, and the LGBTQIA+ community feels like they can come and celebrate here. It’s a venue for everybody. We’re not a gay club, we’re not a straight club, we’re a yes club, we’re for everyone. We want everyone to come and feel welcome here, and I really think that they will.”
“I’ve worked really hard on this, this is my baby. I’ve poured my heart and soul, blood, sweat, and tears, and my bank account into it. This is my baby, but I have about 150 different artists and collaborators who have helped contribute in many different forms. Everything is really friends and family, everything has been touched by the community. This is my project but really it’s Seattle’s venue, this is a venue for Seattle, by Seattle.”
“This space has iconic, legendary Seattle memories as a punk-rock, metal, hip-hop, rave venue. So, for me to have the opportunity to come in here after it was closed for almost two years, it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to help carry the torch for the next generation of nightlife in Seattle. To be able to reinvigorate it and breathe new life into it, I think is a blessing for the city. I’m truly excited to bring new art value to our city.”